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Mary Oliver’s quotes and sayings on books, children, Earth, gratitude, heaven, love, joy, inspiration, morning, nature, poetry, rain, soul, spring, summer, teachers, universe etc.

98 Mary Oliver Quotes To Refresh You

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Mary Oliver is a famous American poet and non-fiction author, who won the prestigious Pulitzer Prize and National Book Award for her work “American Primitive” and “House of Light” respectively. According to the New York Times, she is “far and away, country’s best selling poet”. Her work is largely based on nature and beauty, while trying to depict the appreciation for the charms of the environment which creates joy and introspection among the readers. Her theme of writing is directed towards the simple things in life which can generate euphoria that people usually ignore to appreciate in pursuit of larger materialistic objects. Through her words, she has vividly described the true picturesque scenes which glorify the beauty of Mother Earth. We have curated some of Mary Oliver’s quotes and sayings from her books, poems and life on books, children, Earth, gratitude, heaven, love, joy, inspiration, morning, nature, poetry, rain, soul, spring, summer, teachers, universe etc. Zoom through these inspirational quotes from one of the greatest poets in our generation and perhaps gain a few admirations for this gift of god called nature.

Tell me, what is it you plan to do with your one wild and precious life?

- Mary Oliver

Someone I loved once gave me a box full of darkness. It took me years to understand that this too, was a gift.

- Mary Oliver

Instructions for living a life. Pay attention. Be astonished. Tell about it.

- Mary Oliver

Listen--are you breathing just a little, and calling it a life?

- Mary Oliver

I believe in kindness. Also in mischief. Also in singing, especially when singing is not necessarily prescribed.

- Mary Oliver

You must not ever stop being whimsical. And you must not, ever, give anyone else the responsibility for your life.

- Wild Geese, Mary Oliver

Keep some room in your heart for the unimaginable.

- Mary Oliver

I want to think again of dangerous and noble things. I want to be light and frolicsome. I want to be improbable beautiful and afraid of nothing, as though I had wings.

- Owls and Other Fantasies: Poems and Essays, Mary Oliver

Hello, sun in my face. Hello you who made the morning and spread it over the fields...Watch, now, how I start the day in happiness, in kindness.

- Mary Oliver

I tell you this to break your heart, by which I mean only that it break open and never close again to the rest of the world.

- New and Selected Poems, Mary Oliver

The most regretful people on earth are those who felt the call to creative work, who felt their own creative power restive and uprising, and gave to it neither power nor time.

- Mary Oliver

Sometimes I need only to stand wherever I am to be blessed.

- Evidence: Poems, Mary Oliver

You can have the other words-chance, luck, coincidence, serendipity. I'll take grace. I don't know what it is exactly, but I'll take it.

- Mary Oliver

Still, what I want in my life is to be willing to be dazzled— to cast aside the weight of facts and maybe even to float a little above this difficult world.

- Mary Oliver

The Uses Of Sorrow (In my sleep I dreamed this poem) Someone I loved once gave me a box full of darkness. It took me years to understand that this, too, was a gift.

- Thirst, Mary Oliver

To pay attention, this is our endless and proper work.

- Mary Oliver

Poetry is a life-cherishing force. For poems are not words, after all, but fires for the cold, ropes let down to the lost, something as necessary as bread in the pockets of the hungry.

- A Poetry Handbook, Mary Oliver

Love yourself. Then forget it. Then, love the world.

- Evidence: Poems, Mary Oliver

I don't want to end up simply having visited this world.

- Mary Oliver

Tell me, what else should I have done? Doesn't everything die at last, and too soon? Tell me, what is it you plan to do With your one wild and precious life?

- Mary Oliver

It is better for the heart to break, than not to break.

- Mary Oliver

"Snow was falling, so much like stars filling the dark trees that one could easily imagine its reason for being was nothing more than prettiness.

- Mary Oliver

When it's over, I want to say: all my life I was a bride married to amazement. --from WHEN DEATH COMES

- New and Selected Poems, Mary Oliver

I read the way a person might swim, to save his or her life. I wrote that way too.

- Wild Geese, Mary Oliver

So every day I was surrounded by the beautiful crying forth of the ideas of God, one of which was you.

- Mary Oliver

Maybe death isn't darkness, after all, but so much light wrapping itself around us--

- Owls and Other Fantasies: Poems and Essays, Mary Oliver

He is exactly the poem I wanted to write.

- Mary Oliver

Said the river: imagine everything you can imagine, then keep on going.

- Mary Oliver

The stars began to burn through the sheets of clouds, and there was a new voice which you slowly recognized as your own

- Mary Oliver

It is a serious thing // just to be alive / on this fresh morning / in this broken world.

- Red Bird, Mary Oliver

I held my breath as we do sometimes to stop time when something wonderful has touched us...

- New and Selected Poems, Mary Oliver

Every day I see or hear something that more or less kills me with delight, that leaves me like a needle in the haystack of light.

- Mary Oliver

I believe in kindness. Also in mischief.

- Mary Oliver

I know many lives worth living.

- Mary Oliver

But I also say this: that light is an invitation to happiness, and that happiness, when it's done right, is a kind of holiness, palpable and redemptive.

- Mary Oliver

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.

- Wild Geese, Mary Oliver

And now I understand something so frightening &wonderful- how the mind clings to the road it knows, rushing through crossroads, sticking like lint to the familiar.

- Blue Pastures, Mary Oliver

Also I wanted to be able to love And we all know how that one goes, don't we? Slowly

- New and Selected Poems, Mary Oliver

Do you love this world? Do you cherish your humble and silky life? Do you adore the green grass, with its terror beneath?

- Mary Oliver

Love, love, love, says Percy. And hurry as fast as you can along the shining beach, or the rubble, or the dust. Then, go to sleep. Give up your body heat, your beating heart. Then, trust.

- Mary Oliver

What misery to be afraid of death. What wretchedness, to believe only in what can be proven.

- Mary Oliver

So come to the pond, or the river of your imagination, or the harbor of your longing, and put your lips to the world. And live your life.

- Red Bird, Mary Oliver

Emerson, I am trying to live, as you said we must, the examined life. But there are days I wish there was less in my head to examine, not to speak of the busy heart.

- Red Bird, Mary Oliver

It's not a competition, it's a doorway.

- Mary Oliver

And to tell the truth I don't want to let go of the wrists of idleness, I don't want to sell my life for money, I don't even want to come in out of the rain.

- Blue Iris: Poems and Essays, Mary Oliver

And now you'll be telling stories of my coming back and they won't be false, and they won't be true but they'll be real

- A Thousand Mornings, Mary Oliver

My work is the world. Here the sunflowers, there the hummingbird - equal seekers of sweetness. Here the quickening yeast; there the blue plums...

- Thirst, Mary Oliver

If you suddenly and unexpectedly feel joy, don’t hesitate. Give in to it.

- Mary Oliver

I feel the terror of idleness, like a red thirst. Death isn't just an idea.

- Mary Oliver

When it’s over, I want to say: All my life I was a bride married to amazement. I was the bridegroom, taking the world into my arms.

- Mary Oliver

Let me keep my distance, always, from those who think they have the answers. Let me keep company always with those who say "Look!" and laugh in astonishment, and bow their heads.

- Evidence: Poems, Mary Oliver

Poetry is a life-cherishing force.

- Mary Oliver

Sunrise What is the name of the deep breath I would take over and over for all of us? Call it whatever you want, it is happiness, it is another one of the ways to enter fire.

- Mary Oliver

I try to be good but sometimes a person just has to break out and act like the wild and springy thing one used to be. It's impossible not to remember wild an want it back.

- Mary Oliver

Far off in the red mangroves an alligator has heaved himself onto a hummock of grass and lies there, studying his poems.

- Mary Oliver

What will you do with your one precious, wild life?

- Mary Oliver

Every morning I walk like this around the pond, thinking: if the doors of my heart ever close, I am as good as dead.

- Mary Oliver

We need beauty because it makes us ache to be worthy of it.

- Mary Oliver

When will you have a little pity for every soft thing that walks through the world, yourself included.

- Blue Pastures, Mary Oliver

For some things there are no wrong seasons. Which is what I dream of for me.

- A Thousand Mornings, Mary Oliver

I know I can walk through the world, along the shore or under the trees, with my mind filled with things of little importance, in full self-attendance. A condition I can't really call being alive.

- A Thousand Mornings, Mary Oliver

The face of the moose is as sad as the face of Jesus.

- Mary Oliver

THREE THINGS TO REMEMBER As long as you’re dancing, you can break the rules. Sometimes breaking the rules is just extending the rules. Sometimes there are no rules.

- A Thousand Mornings, Mary Oliver

A dog can never tell you what she knows from the smells of the world, but you know, watching her, that you know almost nothing.

- Dog Songs, Mary Oliver

Poetry is a life-cherishing force. For poems are not words, after all, but fires for the cold, ropes let down to the lost, something as necessary as bread in the pockets of the hungry. Yes indeed.

- Mary Oliver

The man who has many answers is often found in the theaters of information where he offers, graciously, his deep findings. While the man who has only questions, to comfort himself, makes music.

- A Thousand Mornings, Mary Oliver

And I do not want anymore to be useful, to be docile, to lead / children out of the fields into the text / of civility, to teach them that they are (they are not) better than the grass.

- New and Selected Poems, Mary Oliver

I have a little dog who likes to nap with me. He climbs on my body and puts his face in my neck. He is sweeter than soap. He is more wonderful than a diamond necklace, which can't even bark...

- Mary Oliver

After a cruel childhood, one must reinvent oneself. Then reimagine the world.

- Mary Oliver

Always there is something worth saying about glory, about gratitude.

- What Do We Know, Mary Oliver

There are a hundred paths through the world that are easier than loving. But, who wants easier?

- New and Selected Poems, Mary Oliver

Therefore, dark past, I’m about to do it. I’m about to forgive you for everything.

- Mary Oliver

When it's over, I want to say all my life I was a bride married to amazement.

- Why I Wake Early, Mary Oliver

Listen, whatever you see and love— that’s where you are.

- Dog Songs, Mary Oliver

Though I play at the edges of knowing, truly I know our part is not knowing, but looking, and touching, and loving

- Why I Wake Early, Mary Oliver

It must be a great disappointment to God if we are not dazzled at least ten times a day.

- Blue Horses, Mary Oliver

Be prepared. A dog is adorable and noble. A dog is a true and loving friend. A dog is also a hedonist.

- Dog Songs, Mary Oliver

You’re like a little wild thing that was never sent to school.

- Dog Songs, Mary Oliver

You are young. So you know everything. You leap into the boat and begin rowing. But, listen to me. Without fanfare, without embarrassment, without doubt,I talk directly to your soul. Listen to me.

- West Wind, Mary Oliver

As long as you're dancing, you can Break the rules. Sometimes breaking the rules is just Extending the rules. Sometimes there are no rules.

- Mary Oliver

Sometimes I really believe it, that I am going to save my life a little.

- What Do We Know, Mary Oliver

It is the nature of stone to be satisfied. It is the nature of water to want to be somewhere else.

- Mary Oliver

Knowledge has entertained me and it has shaped me and it has failed me. Something in me still starves.

- Mary Oliver

Things take the time they take. Don't worry. How many roads did St. Augustine follow before he became St. Augustine?

- Mary Oliver

Come with me into the woods where spring is advancing, as it does, no matter what, not being singular or particular, but one of the forever gifts, and certainly visible.

- Dog Songs, Mary Oliver

Look, hasn't my body already felt like the body of a flower?

- Mary Oliver

Oh Lord of melons, of mercy, though I am not ready, nor worthy, I am climbing towards you.

- Thirst, Mary Oliver

...because my life without you would be a place of parched and broken trees...

- New and Selected Poems, Mary Oliver

Pay attention. Be astonished. Tell others.

- Mary Oliver

The poem in which the reader does not feel himself or herself a participant is a lecture, listened to from an uncomfortable chair, in a stuffy room, inside a building.

- Winter Hours: Prose, Mary Oliver

Sing, if you can sing, and it not still be musical inside yourself.

- Swan: Poems and Prose Poems, Mary Oliver

The resurrection of the morning. The mystery of the night. The hummingbird's wings. The excitement of thunder. The rainbow in the waterfall. Wild mustard, that rough blaze of the fields.

- A Thousand Mornings, Mary Oliver

Joy is not made to be a crumb. (Don't Hesitate)

- Mary Oliver

Love, love, love, says Percy. And run as fast as you can along the shining beach, or the rubble, or the dust. Then, go to sleep. Give up your body heat, your beating heart. Then, trust.

- Mary Oliver

You too can be carved anew by the details of your devotion.

- Long Life: Essays and Other Writings, Mary Oliver

How could there be a day in your whole life that doesn’t have its splash of happiness?

- House of Light, Mary Oliver

My work is loving the world. Here the sunflowers, there the hummingbird—equal seekers of sweetness.

- Mary Oliver

How shall I touch you unless it is everywhere?

- American Primitive, Mary Oliver