A Poem by Mary Oliver

Image: C.F.A. Voysey


When I moved from one house to another

there were many things I had no room for.

What does one do? I rented a storage

space. And filled it. Years passed.

Occasionally I went there and looked in,

but nothing happened, not a single

twinge of the heart.

As I grew older the things I cared

about grew fewer, but were more

important. So one day I undid the lock

and called the trash man. He took


I felt like the little donkey when

his burden is finally lifted. Things!

Burn them, burn them! Make a beautiful

fire! More room in your heart for love,

for the trees! For the birds who own

nothing– the reason they can fly.

Leave a comment


  1. This is beautiful. I know about the growing older thing and I’m also becoming aware of the letting go thing.
    This little sentiment resonates with my heart

  2. Just spent much of the week decluttering 5 generations (literally) from the house. Appreciate you posting this poem. Captured the spirit of the work.

  3. Wonderful reading for a Saturday, which ended with me letting go of things. Kitchen things, to be precise. Not the trash man, but someone who claimed them on a freecycle style online platform.

    Not five generations but 15 years of married life, which I hope to continue though in a slightly less cluttered home.

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