Home » Poetics » Understanding Poetry: Mary Oliver, “West Wind #2”

Understanding Poetry: Mary Oliver, “West Wind #2”

Read this.

Yes — out loud.

By and by, I will examine you:

 

West Wind #2

Mary Oliver

 

You are young.  So you know everything.  You leap

into the boat and begin rowing.  But listen to me.

Without fanfare, without embarrassment, without

any doubt, I talk directly to your soul.  Listen to me.

Lift the oars from the water, let your arms rest, and

your heart, and heart’s little intelligence, and listen to

me.  There is life without love.  It is not worth a bent

penny, or a scuffed shoe.  It is not worth the body of a

dead dog nine days unburied.  When you hear, a mile

away and still out of sight, the churn of the water

as it begins to swirl and roil, fretting around the

sharp rocks – when you hear that unmistakable

pounding – when you feel the mist on your mouth

and sense ahead the embattlement, the long falls

plunging and steaming – then row, row for your life

toward it.


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