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Wild Geese Analysis



Author: poem of Mary Oliver Type: poem Views: 11

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You do not have to be good.

You do not have to walk on your knees

for a hundred miles through the desert repenting.

You only have to let the soft animal of your body

love what it loves.



Tell me about despair, yours, and I will tell you mine.

Meanwhile the world goes on.

Meanwhile the sun and the clear pebbles of the rain

are moving across the landscapes,

over the prairies and the deep trees,

the mountains and the rivers.

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 --

over and over announcing your place

in the family of things.






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||| Analysis | Critique | Overview Below |||

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Obviously though dont do what you love if say you were a WW2 German SS guard or Russian soldier in Chechenya and killing people who you regard as subhuman is what you love. Some interesting ideas in the poem but in a world where more and more people do what suits them and who cares how it impacts their neighbour, not sure that injunctions not to be good (presumably based on some idea of a natural good morality anyway) is maybe not the greatest of ideas

| Posted on 2016-02-27 | by a guest


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“You don’t have to be good” addresses the imagination about needing to strive hard to become good, as if things aren’t ok as they are. What’s real, the life of the body and earth, don’t require “goodness” to healthily flourish.
“You don’t have to walk on your knees… through the desert”. Walking on knees is not natural to our bodies, and the mental space of people inclined to ascetic practices would indeed be dry, sterile, deathly.
“Let the soft animal… body… love”. We’re earth-animals prone to feeling hurt though that’s because we can feel deeply. The body knows better than the ever-dissociative discursive mind, which tends to wonder off into weird, abstracted places and thereby becomes scornful to the body.
“Tell me about despair, yours”. It’s felt so it needs respectfully discussing. But being so brief with this and quickly moving on to “Meanwhile the world goes on” suggests we miss something magnificent by focusing overmuch on ourselves.
Then the poet names examples from earthly reality to illustrate what’s more wondrous than self-absorption, abstraction, and otherworldly imaginations. “The mountains and rivers” is a common Zen phrase that sums up earth’s phenomenal details.
“Wild geese”. She specified wild to contrast them from an animal that’d strangely choose to walk on its knees when it has feet; wild equals free. “High in the clean blue air”. Though they may be in flight, similar to humans with their imaginative flights, at least they’re unsullied with contrite, regretful feelings. “Are heading home again”. In other words they’ll land from their flight on earth again — their home, as it is any earth-animal’s (and thus also yours and mine) one true home.
“Whoever you are, no matter how lonely”. The lesson (and it is a didactic poem) applies to all of earth’s children; and loneliness can be cured. “The world offers itself”— it’s obviously a very earth-centric poem, so no images in the poem are symbols of unworldly disembodied imaginations.
“To your imagination”. She has to address the imagination because that’s what a lot of humans fill with self-harmful notions (even though the notions were intended to make us “good”) which that can make us feel distant from home here on earth.
“Calls to you like the wild geese”. The images are all examples of what we’re kin with, all real fellowship and communion happens here among embodied beings. The wild knows it as the body knows it, because they’re not burdened as the mind is with imaginations about a ‘more perfect realm’ somewhere else.
“In the family of things”. Earth’s home. Animals, plants and the land are our family. Plant your feet here and you need not feel lonely and despairing and repentant; those problems come from not attending more fully to what’s present to the senses.

| Posted on 2015-06-10 | by a guest


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"WILD GEESE"
by Mary Oliver
You do not have to be good.
You do not have to walk on your knees
For a hundred miles through the desert, repenting.
(We all make mistakes in life and we all have regrets. We have an impulse to somehow make amends, to ask for penance, to suffer for our sins. El Camino is an example of how common it is for people to try to wash their sins away by suffering a long arduous pilgrimage... the payoff being absolution of all your sins.)
You only have to let the soft animal of your body
love what it loves.
(Do not let these impulses to self-flagellate overpower your innate instincts to seek joy. We are inherently good and while some of our choices may have been bad... that is not our nature and we must never lose our basic good nature.)
Tell me about your despair, yours, and I will tell you mine.
(Let us discuss our observations and conclusions of our behaviors that cause us distress. We will each see that we are not alone in this.)
Meanwhile the world goes on.
Meanwhile the sun and the clear pebbles of the rain
are moving across the landscapes,
over the prairies and the deep trees,
the mountains and the rivers.
Meanwhile the wild geese, high in the clean blue air,
are heading home again.
(We can be so self-absorbed in our suffering that we lose sight of the fact that no one else is affected by our inner turmoil. We magnify these troubling thoughts way beyond their significance.)
Whoever you are, no matter how lonely,
the world offers itself to your imagination,
(Your frame of mind is a matter of perception. You can spend all your time weighed down by thoughts of the past and what you might have/should have done. Or you can open your eyes to the potential of the present and all the mundane beauty there is to be harvested by simply taking the time to let it wash over you.)
calls to you like the wild geese, harsh and exciting --
over and over announcing your place
in the family of things.
(We're all really the same bundle of conflicting emotions and defensive stances... allow yourself to be authentic in all things... allow your good will to drive it all... what makes life interesting is that we all have something unique to offer the conglomerate of life and nature... we all belong.)

| Posted on 2013-06-23 | by a guest


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L\'univers, les toiles, les nuages, la migration des oies, le changemnent des saisons, l\'eau des rivire... la nature est indiffrentes nos peines, mais il suffit de regarder plus profondment afin de voir notre place. Nous faisons partie de la nature - le dpart, le changement, la transformation, la perte, la mort - mais pour nous, tres humains, notre seul chemin est travers les motions. Pas question de changer notre nature.... l\'enfance, les amis d\'enfance, les souvenirs... nous ne pouvons pas nous dpartir de nos peines, de nos amours, de nos dceptions... et continuer commme les oies, comme si rien n\'tait. Pour nous, les pleurs font partie de notre nature... Pour nous, qui cherchons le contact, la connexion, l\'intimit, l\'appartenance, l\'identification, la visibilit, nous ne pouvons faire que essayer d\'aimer ce que aime le corps... de ne pas couter les ides reues et crotre afin que notre vie reflte sa nature relle. De toute faon, que nous ne le savons ou pas, nous sommes de la nature, comme les oies.Aimer naturellement, mettre fin sa peur, et vivre sa nature, n\'est facile, mais c\'est la voie qui mne ailleurs.

| Posted on 2012-11-30 | by a guest


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The poem speaks of nature and how it goes with humanity.

| Posted on 2012-05-30 | by a guest


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You do not have to be good this line let us know nobody is perfect we are going to do wrong. You do not have to walk on your knees you do not have to stay on your knees all the time, but you must repent and ask for forgiveness. You only have to let the soft animal of your body love what love it loves. We must love one another as we love our self in other words love thy neighbor. Tell me about despair, yours and I will tell you mine. Tell me all about your troubles and I will tell you mine meanwhile the world goes on time is not going to stop and wait on you. If you have problems fix them as you go time is not going to stand still for you. Meanwhile the sun and the clear pebbles of the rain are moving across the landscape, over the prairies and the deep trees, the mountains and the rivers. There is a brighter day ahead of your pray ask God to remove anything that is not pure cast it into the deep waters. Meanwhile the wild geese, high in the clean blue air, are heading home again. Heaven is our home we are just passing through this old cruel world once giving us a chance to prepare for that journey back home. Whoever you are, no matter how lonely, you are never alone keep your hand in Gods hand, the world offers itself to your imagination worldly things will deceive you have you believing sin is okay offering up things to take your mind off of what is important. Our loving savior Jesus Christ calls you like the wild geese trying to deceive with false preaching and teaching but the spirit knows the spirit. My sheep know my voice. Over and over announcing your place in the family of things these things are of the world you cannot take them with you. Jesus tells us in my fathers house is many mansions if it were not so I would not have told you so this is the family I am living for and the home I am heading towards praying to make it there one day.

| Posted on 2012-05-18 | by a guest


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fyi: im going to explain what each line means, and then at the very end state the general meaning and how all the lines tie together.
lines 1-3 make several religious references. \"You do not have to be good\" already sets a sence of good or evil. \"You do not have to walk on your knees\" - When someone is on their knees, it is generally the stance indicating worship or prayer. And \"A hundred miles through the desert repenting\" represents the 40 days and 40 nights when Jesus was in the desert and tempted by satan. I interpreted these lines as you don\'t have to live your life limited by religion and society.
lines 4-5 \"you only have to let the soft animal of your body love what it loves.\" this signifies that self indulgence is okay and animals are generally very instinctual creatures. So Oliver is basically saying to rely off your instincts and feel what your heart wants to feel.
line six \"tell me about despair, yours and I will tell you mine.\" this represents how we all have a past and baggage but yet after reading lines 7-11, its communicating that we can waste time feeling sorry for ourselves, and pondering our regrets, but the world won\'t stop and wait for you to move on. your basically wasting time focusing on your sorrows.
\"Meanwhile the wild geese, high in the clean blue air are heading home again.\" I thought the wildgeese represented some sort of holy spirit. I will explain this more later but the wild geese, I precieved as some spirit of nature, dead souls, or angels. \"High in the clean blue air\" is referencing heaven or some sort of heavenly place. and \"heading home again\" signifies that the spirits are returning to a nonphysical life.
\"Whoever you are, no matter how lonely, the world offers itself to your imagination\" This is very literal.
Out of the whole poem so far, the basic themes I have found are that you shouldn\'t feel apologetic for living, for using up the earth, because humans aren\'t responsible that we are here on the Earth and we shouldn\'t feel guilty for using the Earth because it offers itself to us.
\"Calls to you like the wild geese, harsh and exciting over and over announcing your place in the family of things.\" So once again she references the wild geese, which are some sort of holy presence. So far, I think Mary Oliver has a theory that after we die, we return to nature and continue a non- physical life that is spiritual. I believe the \"harsh and exciting\" is referring to death and how yes, death is a morbid concept, but beyond death is a more positive and exciting heavenly and spiritual life.
Basically, Mary Oliver is saying that you should live life to its fullest potential, live it without regrets, appreciate but enjoy the Earth and its resources, love what you want to love, because your physical life has very little significance compared to the life you will live after death.

| Posted on 2011-09-25 | by a guest


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Lines 1-5: You do not have to be limited in life by boundaries such as religion. Instead, you have to consent with living life through following your passion.
(shift)
Lines 6-13: As you contemplate with others of your despair, nature continues on.
(shift)
Lines 14-18: No matter who you are, or what situation you are in, you create your own perspective of the world, either positive or negative. Your apprehensions of life creates a place for you in society.
Repetition: 1 & 2 \"You do not have to...\"; 1, 2, & 4 \"You...\"; 7, 8, & 12 \"Meanwhile...\"; 17 \"Over and over...\"
Simile: 16: \"Calls to you like wild geese...\"
My understanding of the poem\'s theme: Slow down in life to actually appreciate nature. Instead of focusing on the negative aspects in life, focus on the positive features of life, such as nature.
-J. AU :)

| Posted on 2011-04-21 | by a guest


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\"Doing good\" and \"walking on your knees\" are things required by society--specifically religion. You don\'t have to rely on those things to teach you.
If you listen to your own natural, animal instincts (which guide the geese in their flight), the world will open for you. We can talk each other to death with our personal problems, but, at that same time, nature continues; \"the world goes on.\"
Whoever you are, life is calling to you to take your place in the natural order of things. The poem is a sort of challenge to use your imagination to join that natural order. It is a very positive and upbeat poem.

| Posted on 2011-04-14 | by a guest


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The poet starts by saying you don\'t have to be good or do penance you only have to look inside, to tap into the spirit. God hasn\'t promised you an easy life, we all have pain (despair). Meanwhile outside of yourself if you look the natural world is doing what it does. The geese could be representative of those who have recently died (heading home again). Those geese are harsh and exciting....death is harsh, otherwise why the word harsh for this image. and they are announcing over and over your place in the family of things. if they represent death or souls leaving the earth then they are representative of the greater life outside the physcial and represent a message that there is more than your small physical life today.

| Posted on 2010-12-10 | by a guest


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the speaker starts off the poem by telling the reader that he does not have to follow the laws of society. that "being good" "walking on your knees" and "repenting" are the ways to be happy. the speaker comes out and tells the reader that the secret to being happy is to let yourself love what you want to love. society may frown upon it and cause you despair, but if you stick with people who feel the same way you do, then you will not feel as bad and you will see that eventually society will accept you and the world will go on.
if you love what you want to then you will feel more at home with yourself, like the geese are at home in the air, and the world will offer itself to your imagination and possibilities that you never thought to see will reveal themselves to you. you will feel excited and you will finally be able to announce yourself in the family of things."

| Posted on 2009-12-02 | by a guest




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