It's strange. When I was at school, poetry was an important aspect of how I engaged with the world. Sure, some of this was part of our syllabus, but I'd seek out and devour other poetry as well. Poems of love, grief and war would be interpreted and applied to my magnified teenage woes. I'd even write my own, describing my crushes and schoolgirl tiffs in the epic style of of Yeats or T.S Eliot. Most of it was cheesy as hell, but it was a wonderful way to carve out some time to truly connect with the world using words.
For this reason, I'm on a mission to read more poetry. At the moment I'm struggling with the guilt of being an adult. It always seems like I'm beating myself up for something: not exercising enough, not working hard enough, being late...it's exhausting. So when I came across the poem, 'Wild Geese' by Mary Oliver, it helped me breathe a sigh of relief. Maybe I am enough after all.
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 your 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.