“How I Go to the Woods” by Mary Oliver

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Today, I just want to share a poem I love, and some photos to go with it. I love Mary Oliver’s poetry, and feel that she expresses so much of what I feel and think about the world. If I was only writing this blog to myself, I would probably post one of her poems every day, until I ran out. Instead, I ordered Wild Geese for myself yesterday.IMG_9352

How I go to the woods

Ordinarily, I go to the woods alone, with not a single
friend, for they are all smilers and talkers and therefore

I don’t really want to be witnessed talking to the catbirds
or hugging the old black oak tree. I have my way of
praying, as you no doubt have yours.

Besides, when I am alone I can become invisible. I can sit
on the top of a dune as motionless as an uprise of weeds,
until the foxes run by unconcerned. I can hear the almost
unhearable sound of the roses singing.

If you have ever gone to the woods with me, I must love
you very much.”

― Mary Oliver, Swan: Poems and Prose Poems

IMG_8379 IMG_9357 Have you taken a walk in the woods lately?  This is something we have been doing as a family (whether in the woods or in the fields nearby) most afternoons and early evenings, now that the days are blissfully long. It is pure refreshment for my spirit. I do sometimes need to ask that the air not be filled with words by my favorite little chatterbox. That instead, we listen, look, smell, and feel. It’s what I look forward to all day long.

Here are some of my favorite lines by Mary Oliver:


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12 Responses to “How I Go to the Woods” by Mary Oliver

  1. Marsha Smith May 12, 2014 at 2:26 pm #

    I believe I’ve seen somewhere here that you do some fashion of meditation. Maybe you should get her involved too! If you think it is impossible, I heard a lady tell this story about her children: When they got old enough to run around the house and understand what she said, she started doing this simple exercise with them: They would go into the living room and she told the boys to sit on the couch. She then told them that they had to sit still and be quiet for half a minute. When they accomplished the thirty seconds, she upped the time. She upped the time every time they got comfortable with the new time limit. When they got to kindergarten, their teacher told their mother that they were certainly well-behaved and knew how to stay in their seats! She also made it a very positive experience for them, she did not do it as a disciplinary measure.

    When your little girl can sit still, maybe you can get her started on meditation. It will cure what ails you (I’m from the South)

    • ariana May 20, 2014 at 9:04 am #

      I like your idea, Marsha, and I think I’ll look for some ways to teach her some meditation.
      I try to give her lots of time on her own, preferably outdoors– and I believe that just *being* out there alone is a form of meditation. She just loves chatting with people so much. But she’s learning to respect the quiet when we’re out in the company of trees.

  2. Melinda May 12, 2014 at 8:58 pm #

    Beautiful! Thank you for this. I was just having a conversation with a friend yesterday, and she was talking about her experiences taking tour groups in historic houses. She said she loved to be the last one leaving a room, so that she could really feel the history. That it just doesn’t happen for her when others are there.

    • Lisa Pedersen May 17, 2014 at 1:26 pm #

      amazing! i love that feeling too

    • ariana May 20, 2014 at 9:05 am #

      Melinda, I love that, and I can imagine that she can only sense the history when it’s perfectly quiet. There are so many cool historic properties here– I will try to “tune in” the next time I can stand alone in one of the rooms.

  3. Robyn Peterson May 15, 2014 at 6:31 pm #

    That poem is about me! 🙂 Thanks for sharing!

    • ariana May 20, 2014 at 9:06 am #

      So glad you enjoyed it– we must be kindred spirits!

  4. Melissa May 19, 2014 at 5:01 am #

    the geese poem is my favorite of hers. Hadn’t read this one before, thanks for sharing!

    • ariana May 20, 2014 at 9:06 am #

      Yes, I love just about every poem of hers that I read. So glad you enjoyed it.

  5. Julie Saldana December 27, 2018 at 2:42 pm #

    Wow, sometimes we just need quiet from a forest to escape the noise from the city, happy from simple things. Take a walk in a forest or field and listen to a favorite piece of music, that is to enjoy life. thank you


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