My Favorite Poem

I first read this poem in a book called 10 Poems to Change Your Life, when I was a teenager and immediately loved it.

It was only later, when I was older and been through a few more hurts, did I really begin to understand it. It became a source of inspiration and courage for me when I was going through a hard time.

So I wanted to share! Maybe you like it as much as I do.

The Journey
-by Mary Oliver

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 starts 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.

Ten Poems to Change Your Life

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  • lia dominique andress
    January 24, 2012 at 5:32 PM

    all to real. a much nicer way of expressing the disconnect and discontent between me and my family.


  • Hannah Pratt
    January 24, 2012 at 6:00 PM

    I loved this.

  • Jessica F
    January 24, 2012 at 10:30 PM

    I’ve felt those hurts you are feeling.

    Huge hugs from your cajun fan in Louisiana.

    • Stephanie
      January 25, 2012 at 12:13 AM

      Thanks so much Jessica.

  • Sandy H
    January 25, 2012 at 4:11 AM

    Thank you so much for sharing this! I adore this poem, having heard it for the first time almost a year and a half ago. I needed this tonight more than you could possibly know! Big hugs from Alabama.

    • Stephanie
      January 25, 2012 at 10:38 AM

      Big hugs right back at you!

  • Salena Lee
    January 25, 2012 at 10:16 AM

    I loved this. Thanks for sharing this.

    • Stephanie
      January 25, 2012 at 10:39 AM

      Thanks for reading!

  • Nessa
    January 25, 2012 at 7:04 PM

    Thank you for sharing… achingly fitting for someone I love.

  • Susan
    January 28, 2012 at 8:49 PM

    Stephanie, I enjoy the information on Mama and Baby Love!! Congratulations on putting together such a well-done site! I SO love and relate to this poem from “Ten Poems to Change Your Life.” I want to let you know about an error in the second line you wrote: “begun” should say “began” according to the poem’s author, Roger Housden. Just a little type-o. Keep up the good work, especially those awesome freezer recipes!!

    • Stephanie
      January 29, 2012 at 1:41 AM

      Thanks for taking the time to tell me! I am the worst about typos, always rushing to get a post done. 🙂

  • Jean
    February 8, 2012 at 4:13 PM

    Another typo is “the starts began to burn” should be “the stars began to burn”.
    Also a clarification of Susan’s post above: Roger Housden is not the author; Mary Oliver is the author. But Roger Housden included this poem in a compilation of poems in one of his books.

  • Lisa Waszkiewicz
    February 28, 2012 at 12:50 AM

    I love the courage in this poem. Thank you for sharing. I’ve posted it by my laptop for my “stormy” moments.

    • Stephanie
      February 28, 2012 at 12:52 AM

      Yes, this poem is perfect for the stormy moments.

  • Jo
    April 21, 2012 at 9:18 AM

    It’s funny how sometimes you get just what you need at that particular moment from an unexpected source. Reading this poem, and your blog, is one of those times. Thanks so much for all your sharing.

    • Stephanie
      April 22, 2012 at 2:45 AM

      So glad to hear and so glad you are here!

  • Phaedra
    June 17, 2013 at 7:20 PM

    This is one of the most inspiring poems of all time for me. I read this poem as a fairly young mom with 3 kids under the age of 4, and was struggling quite a bit. It inspired the name of my business, Essential Journeys, and I think of it often! Thanks for sharing!


    • Stephanie
      June 18, 2013 at 2:22 PM

      What a beautiful business name!