Tag Archives: Mary Oliver

Functional Language

There is a kind of language that is clearly unsuitable when one is writing a poem. I call it informational language. It is the language one would use if one were writing a paragraph on how to operate a can opener. It is a language that means to be crisp and accurate. Its words are exact. They do not ever desire to throw two shadows. The language is cold. It does not reach for any territory beyond the functional.

Mary Oliver, A Poetry Handbook: A Prose Guide to Understanding and Writing Poetry

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Christmas gifts to three daughters

The Age journalist John Elder reveals his 2015 Christmas gifts to his three adult daughters ‘. . . a Christmas card, a lace handkerchief, embroidered in the corner with a wildflower, and a photocopy of Mary Oliver’s poem Wild Geese. Taken together (the hankie, the poem, the card) I felt sure this was a keepsake, something to be pondered in their old-lady futures. Or even better to draw upon as they toddle through their lives.

This year marks the 30th anniversary of Wild Geese being published. It begins this way:

You do not have to be good.

You do not have to walk on your knees

For a hundred miles through the desert, repenting.

So there’s that. And it ends with:

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.

And so, to you, the reader, I offer this poem as a substitute to making a new year’s resolution. . .

John Elder, The Age Sunday 27th December 2015

(from here) 

 

 

 

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Prayer for the coming year, 2015

Maybe our world will grow kinder eventually.

Maybe the desire to make something beautiful

is the piece of God that is inside each of us.

Mary Oliver

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