You’ve all probably seen word clouds, those designs that are made from a selection of words in a paragraph. There’s a free online program called Wordle that I use with my students on the first day of classes at Trinity as an introduction. I have them write a little bit about themselves, then transform it into a design. You just paste the words into the Wordle window, choose your colors and layout, click Create – and voila! Here’s one of my favorite Mary Oliver poems, Wild Geese, as a Wordle word cloud (the poem itself is underneath the design). Give it a try, and have fun Wordle-ing!
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 the 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.
from Dream Work by Mary Oliver