“Wild Geese” is structured around a thematic progression from inside to outside—that is, from the psychological interior to exterior nature. When the speaker first addresses the reader, they tell us that we don’t have to “be good” (line 1), nor should we torture ourselves by “repenting” (line 3) for our various shortcomings. Following these sentiments, the speaker invites the reader to reflect on our own despair. All these references to goodness, repentance, and despair reflect a preoccupation with the inner landscape of the mind. Our emotional hardships unfold within this confined and limiting landscape, which the speaker likens to a barren “desert” (line 3), empty of life. In line 7, however, the speaker turns from internal experience to the external world. “Meanwhile the world goes on,” the speaker says, before going on to describe verdant landscapes like prairies and mountains. Not only are these landscapes more vibrant than the barren desert of the mind. They’re also part of a vast realm that exists beyond our individual selves. The speaker implies that if we learn to redirect our attention away from the smallness of our own suffering, we can awaken to the expansiveness of nature.