Line Break: ‘The Journey’ by Mary Oliver

shootingstarYou know what I miss?

Poetry.

Reading it, talking about it, even writing it, though poems are the most difficult kind of writing for me. For a time during university I read poetry almost every night before sleep, absorbing the way a line break could completely alter the relationship between words or how the clarity of one perfect image could translate an emotion onto a page. Poetry was a revelation for me. In 2015, I want to bring it back into my life.

So, once a month or so I’m going to share a poem I discover here, with you guys. I decided to call this series ‘Line Break’ for the obvious connection to how poems are structured, but also because I think pausing to read a poem offers a wonderful (and essential) break from the excess noise in our minds and lives.

This poem by Mary Oliver felt particularly fitting for the start of a new year. xx

The Journey 

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
recognised 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.

*photo by Juskteez Vu via Unsplash 
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5 responses

  1. Happy New year gorgeous girl! I love reading all your posts, but I feel particularly compelled to share this poem with you. I first heard it read aloud a couple of months ago by an educational motivational/inspirational speaker … And it has stuck with me. I think about it often as it struck a chord in my heart that reminded me of myself .. the travelling, the education, Jason and the girls, the yearning for a stolen far away trip that possibly it could happen again one day..that life is a big journey, and we need to enjoy the ride. Needless to say, I think you will absolutely LOVE it, so enjoy a cuppa tea whilst reading this one for me :) In fact, I’m thinking out aloud now , but I might print and display it:) Sending you lots and lots of love as always. Charlotte Xxxxxx

    The Station

    Tucked away in our subconscious is an idyllic vision. We are traveling by train, out the windows, we drink in the passing scenes of children waving at a crossing, cattle grazing on a distant hillside, row upon row of corn and wheat, flatlands and valleys, mountains and rolling hillsides and city skylines.

    But uppermost in our minds is the final destination. On a certain day, we will pull into the station. Bands will be playing and flags waving. Once we get there, our dreams will come true and the pieces of our lives will fit together like a completed jigsaw puzzle. Restlessly we pace the aisles, damning the minutes – waiting, waiting, waiting for the station.

    “When we reach the station, that will be it!” We cry. “When I’m 18.” “When I buy a new 450sl Mercedes Benz!” “When I put the last kid through college.” “When I have paid off the mortgage!” “When I get a promotion.” “When I reach retirement, I shall live happily ever after!”

    Sooner or later, we realize there is no station, no one place to arrive. The true joy of life is the trip. The station is only a dream. It constantly outdistances us. “Relish the moment” is a good motto. It isn’t the burdens of today that drive men mad. It is the regrets over yesterday and the fear of tomorrow. Regret and fear are twin thieves who rob us of today. Regret is reality, after the facts.

    So stop pacing the aisles and counting the miles.

    Instead, climb more mountains, eat more ice cream,

    go barefoot more often, swim more rivers, watch more sunsets,laugh more, cry less. Life must be lived as we go along.

    The STATION will come soon enough.

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