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