Notes On Mary Oliver’s "wild Geese”

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Copyright Category: Publications and Books
Type of Work: Literary
Copyright Holder: Maria Corazon Elgar de la Cruz
Website: http://socyberty.com/people/notes-on-mary-oliver%E2%80%99s-wild-geese%E2%80%9D/
Year Published / Made Public in: 2011
Date Added to Copyright Register: 17-Jul-2012 10:29
Last updated: 30-Sep-2012 22:14

Literary Copyright Work Details:

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

          blue air,

          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 


matters most.

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 


truest meaning.   






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 




Copyright 2012-7-17 

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).
The Copyright work has been viewed 15181 times (since 22 Nov 2010).

Maria Corazon de la Cruz Contact Details: Email: theadwealthizer@gmail.com

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