“The Journey” by Mary Oliver

It seems fitting to end pause our journey as we began it two years ago . . . with Mary Oliver. Thank you all for an enriching and rewarding two years, and for choosing to spend your days with us.

Small-Blue-RGB-National-Poetry-Month-LogoWords for the Year will be back after a short break. I’m planning an April 1 return, just in time for the twentieth anniversary of National Poetry Month, though we may be back sooner. We may even have a few surprises lined up for you in the interim.

If you have a favorite poem you’d like to see featured on Words for the Year, please let me know via the contact page or on our recent post, “On the Future of Words for the Year.” Hopefully we can share it with our readers. 

Thank you for your support, your interest, and your words. ~ Christy 


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.

-Mary Oliver, from Dream Work


Poet David Whyte on Mary Oliver’s “The Journey”


9 thoughts on ““The Journey” by Mary Oliver

  1. Brian Dean Powers

    I have read this poem many, many times. It is a true comfort. My family background has a similarity to hers, and I often feel as though she wrote this poem directly to me. I’m sure others have the same experience.

    Thank you for your daily posts. It’s especially pleasurable when you bring me an author whose work I’ve not seen before.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. mishedup

    oh Christy…
    thank you so much for the joy of these past two years? really?
    seems like 2 minutes, 2 very pleasurable and wonderful minutes

    and my WOTY post….you might see a very familiar poem in it, and that just proves what a few of us have been saying, “great minds…”..LOL

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I can’t wait.

      Two years have passed very quickly. Funny, I wondered at first if I could even do something like this…a post a day for a year. Even with other words not my own. The commitment scared the bejesus out of me. Which was part of why I did it.
      Now the letting go of a project I’ve grown to love like air, is just as uncomfortable. Which is also why I’m letting go.
      But only for a short while.



  3. Hannah Richell

    I can’t remember how I found you and your blog, but your words have kept me afloat these past eighteen months. Thank you, Christy. Happy New Year. May the days to come bring you wonderful joy.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hannah, hello! I wish you another peaceful year of healing and comfort and maybe even some happiness too.

      Oddly enough, I do remember! We each found each other separately, right around the same time. …
      I found you from my personal writing account at Running on Sober (as Christy Anna) when WP freshly pressed your “books on grief” post.

      And right around then, you found this site (and me as Christina’s Words) thanks to Neruda’s love sonnets (if I die, survive me with such force…). My stats jumped like crazy that day, so I looked into why out of curiosity…

      When I realized the crazy coincidence I just had to shake my head in marvel. I don’t think I ever told you that, but know that your own work has saved me too, continents away.

      After a brief practice in letting go, I’ll be back. 🙂 stay tuned for some reader favorites while I’m away. Maybe I’ll even re-run those Neruda sonnets for you.

      Love, Christy


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