My Favorite Poem. The Journey, by Mary Oliver

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

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

About the Author

Hiya! I'm Stephanie. Mama and Baby Love is all about helping mothers on their own personal health and healing journey and enjoying life along the way. You can learn more about me and what I'm all about. Sign up for my newsletter for more tips, info and inspiration!


  1. lia dominique andress says:

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


  2. Hannah Pratt says:

    I loved this.

  3. I’ve felt those hurts you are feeling.

    Huge hugs from your cajun fan in Louisiana.

  4. 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.

  5. I loved this. Thanks for sharing this.

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

  7. 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!!

  8. 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.

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

  10. 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.

  11. 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!


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