“The Journey”- A Poem for Beginning a New Year by Mary Oliver

Mary Oliver is a poet I often turn to for comfort, inspiration, and insight. This poem, “The Journey,” just might be my favorite.  For some time now, I’ve read it every year on New Year’s Day. It speaks of great beginnings—of quiet revolution!—of starting the great journey we all have to begin some day, if we haven’t’ begun already.

May 2011 be a year of great growth and progress for you, dear reader. May the light of the dharma help you find you way home, to your original mind, fetterless and free. The journey is a great one, and as another great poet, T.S. Eliot said,

We shall not cease from exploration
And the end of all our exploring
Will be to arrive where we started
And know the place for the first time.

The Journey

by 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 you could save.

♥♥♥

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About Steven Goodheart

"I have made a ceaseless effort not to ridicule, not to bewail, not to scorn human actions, but to understand them." Spinoza

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  1. A. H. Almass on Sinking Your Boats and becoming the Universal Heretic | Metta Refuge - 2011/08/22

    […] “The Journey”-A Poem for the New Year by Mary Oliver […]

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