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 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.
- Mary Oliver
How haunting is that line, "You only have to let the soft animal of your body love what it loves"... I get shivers every time I hear it.
Makes sense that Mary Oliver is one of the richest poets in the United States, no? Her and Billy Collins. At least somebody is successful, and by golly they've earned it.
And another poem:
There was a war between good and evil.
We decided to call the body good.
That made death evil.
It turned the soul
against death completely.
Like a foot soldier wanting
to serve a great warrior, the soul
wanted to side with the body.
It turned against the dark,
against the forms of death
Where does the voice come from
that says suppose the war
is evil, that says
suppose the body did this to us,
made us afraid of love—