Lisa Francesca & Marjorie Schallau: A favorite poem

The Journey
by Mary Oliver

I believe I am just one of many, many people who love this poem in a special, personal way. I discovered it in my late thirties, when I was forced to admit that my old way of living had failed. It was uncanny reading these words, as if she were inside of my skin. I took her encouragement and went forward into my new life, which was, incidentally, more wonderful than I could have dreamed possible.

Lisa Francesca
Writer, poet, wedding celebrant



Searching for favorite poems, I came across this page with the corner turned down, reminding me to read it again and again. “One day you finally knew…and began…leaving the voices behind” and there was a new voice–your voice–finally being expressed.  I love the idea that Mary Oliver gives permission to turn one’s back on the never-ending demands of the world and, though difficult and perhaps guilt-ridden, to finally move toward taking care of oneself.  Because only you can do that.

Marjorie Schallau

San Jose

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
recognized 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.

Mary Oliver


1 Comment

Filed under Favorite Poem

One response to “Lisa Francesca & Marjorie Schallau: A favorite poem

  1. Vicki L. Harvey

    I love this poem. Every time I read it I can hear David Whyte reciting it in a way only he can. Love Mary Oliver. She is one of the great poets of all time.

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