The speaker of “Wild Geese” directly addresses the reader, offering wise reflections that are intended to help us readers find solace. From the opening lines of the poem, the speaker adopts a concerned yet caring attitude toward the reader. It isn’t immediately clear what motivates the speaker to address us, other than a desire to nurture our well-being. The speaker’s empathetic attitude suggests that they know—or think they know—something about life that we readers do not. They have clearly experienced personal hardship, as they indicate in line 6, when they say to the reader, “Tell me about despair, yours, and I will tell you mine.” However, the speaker seems to imply that we readers are the ones currently experiencing hardship, not them. Indeed, it is because they have figured out how to navigate their own challenges that they are in a position to help us. Older and wiser, the speaker wishes to hand down the lessons they have learned.

It is possible, however, that the speaker’s emotional state is more troubled than it initially appears. In lines 14–15, the speaker declares: “Whoever you are, no matter how lonely, / the world offers itself to your imagination.” These lines make it clear that the speaker is not addressing a particular person, but rather anyone who reads this poem. The generality of the address opens the possibility that the speaker is really addressing themself. That is, they could be projecting their own problems onto some abstract others, offering advice to these unknown individuals as a roundabout way of speaking to their own needs. If we accept this interpretation, then we readers no longer see the speaker as someone who is older and wiser than us, but rather as a peer. However, this shift in perspective doesn’t invalidate the speaker’s message. Instead, it may make us more willing to consider their advice, since it’s easier for us to identify with them and their ongoing personal struggles.