Notes On Mary Oliver’s "wild Geese”
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Type of Work: Literary
Copyright Holder: Maria Corazon Elgar de la Cruz
Year Published / Made Public in: 2011
Date Added to Copyright Register: 17-Jul-2012 10:29
Last updated: 30-Sep-2012 22:14
Notes on Mary Oliver’s "Wild Geese”
Just a brief essay with emphasis on the poet’s perfect mix of both
the underlying and the obvious meanings in the poem as well as her
astounding use of the metaphors within.
Mary Oliver’s “Wild Geese” focuses on the beauty of life as well
as surviving its everyday challenges and difficulties. It is a
perfect mix of both the underlying and the obvious meanings. The
poem is in free-verse so punctuations are used sparingly
throughout the poem but enough commas are distributed on areas
where there should be a slight “pause”; significantly chosen words
are placed individually per line.
The 1st line “You do not have to be good” (Oliver 1) marks the
obvious soulful mood of the poem. This is followed by a
description of religious approach when one tends to feel guilty
“You do not have to walk on your knees/ For a hundred miles
through the desert/ repenting” (2 – 4). This refers to the
pressure to obey certain rules which some individuals might find
burdensome yet must be followed or they suffer the consequences.
Then the poem speaks of a natural human desire “You only have to
let the soft animal of your / body/love what it loves” (5 – 7) —
the everyday challenge to follow what society considers to be
decent but somehow with limited freedom; as well as an invitation
to share in the common sadness experienced by all people “Tell me
about your despair, yours, and I will tell you mine” (8 – 9).
The obviousness stops at “Meanwhile the world goes on” (10) making
way for the underlying meaning by the use of the metaphor in the
following lines: “Meanwhile the sun and the clear pebbles of / the
rain” (11- 12). The sun signifies the days when things are going
fine and good while the clear pebbles of the rain are the days
when things are not going so well. The pebbles are clear in the
sense that the rain will not be prolonged and so are the trials.
The succeeding lines: “are moving across the landscapes/ over the
prairies and the deep trees/ the mountains and the rivers” (13 –
15) goes on to specify the various places (the landscapes),
situations of abundance (prairies) and of poorness (deep trees);
moments of glory (the mountains) and defeat (the rivers).
Life is beautiful as emphasized in the lines:
“Meanwhile the wild geese, high in the clean
are heading home again.
Whoever you are, no matter how lonely,
the world offers itself to your imagination,
calls to you like the wild geese, harsh and
exciting” – (16-22).
The above are the most obvious calling of the poem. Simple words
are used to capture all the possibilities of freedom and joy. The
wild geese, after flying in several destinations throughout the
day in search of food, are still up high in the sky. They are on
the way to their dwelling places but still wandering at the same
time: enjoying the feel of the air on their wings and delighting
in the company of their fellow geese. The ending words of “over
and over announcing your place in the family of things” (23 - 24)
serves as a reminder to enjoy life in the company of people who
Revealing a few then hiding the rest to produce a mysterious but
simple work of art can be a hard thing to do unless you are, of
course, Mary Oliver. Her imagination and analogy in relating every
aspect of human life to that of nature can never be rivaled. Of
note is her use of metaphors at the right placement with effective
choice of words to combine it with: the sun, the pebbles of rain,
moving in the landscapes, over the prairies and the deep trees,
the mountains and the rivers. Using these elements of nature in
comparison with everyday human experiences provided the poem with
the balance it needs to set off the obvious meanings at the start
and at the end of it. Also, the usage of the metaphor made the
description necessary enough to aid the poem in conveying its
Notes on Mary Oliver’s "Wild Geese” by Maria Corazon
Elgar de la Cruz. Find out more about the poet @labellacor
(Twitter) or add her as a friend at
Literary Keywords/Search Tags:
the wild geese, wild geese, mary oliver, oliver poetry, poem by mary oliver, mary oliver poet, poetry of mary oliver
This Literary This work is copyrighted and may be used and/or cited as follows:
Notes on Mary Oliver’s "Wild Geese” by Maria Corazon Elgar de la Cruz. Find out more about the poet @labellacor (Twitter) or add her as a friend at http://www.facebook.com/theadwealthizer.
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Date Added: 17-Jul-2012 10:31
Submission Details: Literary Work submitted by Maria Corazon de la Cruz from Philippines on 17-Jul-2012 10:29 (Last edited on 30-Sep-2012 22:14).
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