Mary Oliver's "Wild Geese"

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The gentle, tone in Oliver’s poem “Wild Geese” is extremely encouraging, speaking straight to the reader. In this particular poem, the lines don’t rhyme, however it is still harmonious in not only rhythm but repetition as well. Take note of the rhythm in the lines starting with the word “You”: “You do not have to be good,” “You do not have to walk,” “You only have to let.” This rhythm is also heard in the lines starting with the word “Meanwhile”: “Meanwhile the world goes on,” “Meanwhile the sun and the clear pebbles,” “Meanwhile the wild geese.” The reiteration of the words “You” and “Meanwhile” presents a soft rhythmic element to the writers expression. It attracts readers with its tenderness while also inspiring the understanding with what this poem really means. The metaphors Oliver uses are hardly ever unexpected. She uses a comprehensible dialect in its place. It may not seem too convincing, yet it makes an absolute piece become meaningful and worthwhile. It is not complicated to picture wild geese flying across the atmosphere. However, it is flattering when sitting alongside the scenery of sun and rain “moving across the landscapes over prairies and the deep trees, the mountains and the rivers.” Oliver uses this identical representation in order to illustrate humanity reaching out to those that are feeling completely alone. Once more, this is not very complicated, but a fascinating metaphor. Oliver may be considered a poet of irony; however there is no way her work can be considered to be “boring.” Her established word choice contains traditional gracefulness while at the same time adding modern thoughts about both nature and the human race.

I feel the first line in the poem “Wild Geese” is probably the most memorable and intentional of the entire sonnet. The second and third line seems to prove this by maintaining the perception that one can choose whether they want to be a “good” person. The second line “you do not have to walk on your...
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