The Journey

The Journey

Mary Oliver

One day you finally knew
what you had to do, and began,
though the voices around you 
kept shouting
their bad advice-
though the whole house 
began to tremble
and you felt the old tug
at your ankles.
“Mend my life!”
each voice cried.
But you didn’t stop.
You knew what you had to do,
though the wind pried
with its stiff fingers at the very foundations,
though their melancholy
was terrible.

It was already late 
enough, and a wild night,
and the road full of fallen branches and stones.
But little by little,
as you left their voices behind,
the stars began to burn
through the sheets of clouds,
and there was a new voice
which you slowly
recognized as your own,
that kept you company 
as you strode deeper and deeper into the world,
determined to do
the only thing you could do-
determined to save
the only life that you could save.


  “The Journey” is an intriguing poem written by Mary Oliver.  She took a different approach in this writing.  When you first read this poem, you might need to read it a few more times to get the big picture.  Oliver’s approach is comparing oneself to nature.  This poem ultimately is trying to convey to the audience to listen to yourself, the inner voice, your conscious, because it can only lead you down the right path.  Your conscious will not lie to you, and only be honest, which is why it makes sense to listen to what it is telling you.  It is evident that the poem is talking to “yourself” because it says “you” plenty of times.  It also talks about the voices around you, which are the distractions that can discourage you to listen to yourself, and wanting to mend your life. Then towards the end of the poem, it talks about recognizing your own voice, and saving yourself from the problems of life.


2 thoughts on “The Journey

  1. Pingback: The Journey | Contrary Mom

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