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Wild Geese

Mary Oliver wrote this beautiful poem about sensing and perceiving Nature through direct experiences. Maurice Merleau Ponty wrote about the phenomenology of perception which is the about the way body and its senses act as gateways in perceiving the world. Our body is not an only a thing, it is an object that researches the world.

When we “the soft animal of your body” experience and sense Nature, we are in Nature. We have images for our imagination that fill our hearts and souls so fully. We belong in ways that we cannot as an observer standing outside. We are part of a community that includes all of Nature.

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 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.


About ivonprefontaine

In keeping with bell hooks and Noam Chomsky, I consider myself a public and dissident intellectual. Part of my work is to move beyond (transcend) institutional dogmas that bind me to defend freedom, raising my voice to be heard on behalf of those who seek equity and justice in all their forms. I completed my PhD in Philosophy of Leadership Studies at Gonzaga University, Spokane, WA. My dissertation and research was how teachers experience becoming teachers and their role as leaders. I focus on leading, communicating, and innovating in organizations. This includes mindfuful servant-leadership, World Cafe events, Appreciative Inquiry, and expressing one's self through creativity. I offer retreats, workshops, and presentations that can be tailored to your organzations specific needs. I published peer reviewed articles about schools as learning organizations, currere as an ethical pursuit, and hope as an essential element of adult eductaion. I published three poems and am currently preparing my poetry to publish as an anthology of poetry. I present on mindful leadership, servant leadership, schools as learning organizations, how teachers experience becoming teachers, assessement, and critical thinking. I facilitate mindfulness, hospitality retreats. and World Cafe Events using Appreciative Inquiry. I am writing and researching about various forms of leadership, how teachers inform and form their identity as a particular teacher, schools as learning organizations, hope and its anticipatory relationship with the future, and hope as an essential element in learning.

30 responses »

  1. reminds me to naturally
    soften gradually
    with deepening nightfall 🙂

  2. Just beautiful. Thankyou

  3. Nature is a nice place.

  4. hearts opening
    forces of nature

  5. This is one of my favourite poems, thank you.

    ‘To let the soft animal of your body love what it loves,,,,,,,’
    wonderful words, recognizing the oneness of human nature in it’s truest being, it’s like a homecoming.

  6. Beautiful poetry, Ivon. Thank you.

  7. I really like the notion that “the world offers itself to your imagination” – thanks for sharing this.

  8. I have never seen this poem – fantastic! Thank you.

  9. I do love this poem! 🙂 Mary Oliver is so inspirational, and so right about life. I found this SoundCloud reading of it a while back, it’s read quite beautifully and professionally. You might like it?

  10. Thank you Ivon. She takes us on such a beautiful joinery through our senses with her word.

  11. Thank you Ivan for bringing Mary into my Monday morning. I have read this poem many times and each time I am reminded that our nature — our Human Nature is so precious and God-given. Not to be earned but enjoyed to the fullest as our inalienable right. Blessings to you, Alia

  12. I really appreciate Mary Oliver too. Thank you for sharing this.

  13. I adore Mary Oliver. Mary Oliver and Gary Snyder are easily my favorite poets. They have such a remarkable way of combining human emotion and grit with the beauty and healing powers of nature.

    Thanks for stopping by my blog! I’m really enjoying your writing and look forward to reading more! 🙂

  14. Reblogged this on Loving Me, Too and commented:
    This comforting poem is a treasure I first found years ago in the first edition of a book called Earth Prayers. I am grateful to have found it again here on Teacher’s blog.


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