This evening, at a dinner party in Paris

This evening, at a dinner party in Paris, I learned about Mary Oliver. I learned that she had existed, that she had been a poet whose work was beloved by several of the people in the room, and that she had passed away only three days ago.

So this evening I went on-line and read through much of her poetry, and found it to be deeply moving and inspirational. I will share with you this one, called “The Journey”, which speaks to me in a particularly profound way:

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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