“The Journey” We All Encounter
By Mary Oliver
Life is An ongoing Journey that all people must undergo. Mary Oliver causes the reader to fully experience the lifelong struggle of finding her/himself. Ultimately the common goal in this poem, and in our lives, is to show one’s need to find his/herself through the countless obstacles in our way.
The idea that this poem is ongoing and lacking stanza breaks can implicitly illustrate the notion that life itself is ongoing without “breaks”. The view that through good and bad (obstacles), we all must go on is represented in lines 10-12,
“Mend my life!”
each voice cried.
But you didn’t stop.
Oliver is explaining to the reader that although we will discover many hardships in life, we must move on and continue our personal journey as seen in line 12, “But you didn’t stop”.
The lack of stanza breaks also causes the reader to move more quickly through the poem. He/she is “pulled” through the poetry because many of the sentences are short and contain only three to four words. Another cause of “pulling” through the work is that many sentences are cut off and continued on the next line. Oliver is doing this to get an intense feeling across to the reader, the feeling of urgency and the definitive need to reach that final goal of life’s journey. The idea of urgency can be seen in lines 1-4:
One day you finally knew
What you had to do, and began,
though the voices around you
The feeling previously mentioned of being “rushed” through the poem can be compared to the quickness of life. Our lives go by faster than we expect. People don’t usually realize just what their goal of life’s journey is, until they finally reach the end. Oliver is quickly pulling the reader toward the end of the poem because that is where we find the reason or goal for this “journey”.