Poetry Friday: Two poems in celebration of Women’s History Month

Poetry Friday is hosted by Dori at Dori Reads 

March 1st is the beginning of Women’s History Month, and the news of the day is that the Blunt Amendment (an assault against a woman’s right to health care) was barely defeated in the Senate, and that a certain right-wing “pundit” launched an all-out character assassination of a young law school student speaking out about women’s rights. What has our country come to?  Sigh… So here are two poems by two poets who give us much to celebrate:

Mary Oliver

Alice Walker



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 stars 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.

Before you knew you owned it 
by Alice Walker
Expect nothing. Live frugally
On surprise.
become a stranger
To need of pity
Or, if compassion be freely
Given out
Take only enough
Stop short of urge to plead
Then purge away the need.

Wish for nothing larger
Than your own small heart
Or greater than a star;
Tame wild disappointment
With caress unmoved and cold
Make of it a parka
For your soul.

Discover the reason why
So tiny human midget
Exists at all
So scared unwise
But expect nothing. Live frugally
On surprise.


7 thoughts on “Poetry Friday: Two poems in celebration of Women’s History Month

  1. I believe I often like the endings of poems-therein lies the lesson, I suppose. Those lines of both: "Live frugally/On surprise" and "determined to save the only life/you could save" are quite wonderful, Tara. Thank you!

  2. These beautiful lines from Alice Walker have given me a lot to think this evening:Wish for nothing largerThan your own small heartOr greater than a star;Tame wild disappointmentWith caress unmoved and coldMake of it a parkaFor your soul.– Now if only we can all think in this way, with a parka for our soul, and a poem in our hearts – then we wouldn't live too much in fear and in a world where there is much discord and distrust. We shall also be celebrating Women's Month over at GatheringBooks as soon as we launch our new bimonthly theme for March/April – very excited about that. 🙂

  3. "Live frugally/On surprise" made my morning and is straight on its way to the notebook. These two poems are a beautiful way to usher in Women's History Month. a.

  4. I love the rhythm of "Before You Knew You Owned It." So punctuated with definition. And I am moved by this line from "The Journey" – "You knew what you had to do, though the wind pried with its stiff fingersat the very foundations, though their melancholy was terrible." Both powerful words by strong women ~ beautiful!

  5. Oh, these are wonderful! I love the Oliver poem, but the Walker poem is the one that really got me. Live frugally/on surprise. Enjoyed it at the beginning, adored it by the ending:>)

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