The 42 Most Uplifting Mary Oliver Quotes

Mary Oliver is highly credited for her poetic and creativity in non-fiction writing. She is one of the most popular and best selling poets of all time. Mary was born on September 10, 1935, in Maple Heights. Her work revolves around nature and its immense beauty created by environmental charms which not only instills joy in its readers but also, acts as unifying retrospection. Mary values simplicity and in it, she finds her ideals which she values most as opposed to the complexity of matters that most people find valuable especially material possession.

Throughout her work, Mary harps the theme of simplicity which creates ecstasy among the readers and very vivid pictures of the universe. Consequently, her works have been nominated on several occasions for major honors. Her work American Primitive has won the most coveted Pulitzer Prize.

Additionally, her highly composed and creative piece of work House of Light won the honor in the National Book Award making her popular and cherished throughout the poetic world. She writes with such creativity that her ideas shape the opinion of her readers towards the beauty of mother earth and therefore her audience appreciates the greatness of Mother Nature.

Mary’s works have produced very pertinent quotes on the following topics; earth, children, joy, gratitude, heaven, Mother Nature, seasons as well as teachers among others. The following are some of her inspiring quotes which are highly regarded as great wells of wisdom:

Mary Oliver Quotes

1.“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

2.”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.”— Mary Oliver

3. “But little by little,/ as you left their voices behind,/ the stars began to burn/ through the sheets of clouds,/ and there was a new voice/ which you slowly/ recognized as your own,/ that kept you company/ as you strode deeper and deeper/ into the world,/ determined to do/ the only thing you could do –/ determined to save/ the only life you could save.”— Mary Oliver

4. “Instructions for living a life. Pay attention. Be astonished. Tell about it.”— Mary Oliver

5. “I believe in kindness. Also in mischief. Also in singing, especially when singing is not necessarily prescribed.”–Mary Oliver

6. “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.”—Mary Oliver

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7. “Tell me, what is it you plan to do with your one wild and precious life?”— Mary Oliver

8. “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

9. “If I have any lasting worth, it will be because I have tried to make people remember what the Earth is meant to look like.”— Mary Oliver

10. “To live in this world you must be able to do three things to love what is mortal; to hold it against your bones knowing your own life depends on it; and, when the time comes to let it go, to let it go.”— Mary Oliver

11. “You must not ever stop being whimsical. And you must not, ever, give anyone else the responsibility for your life.”— Mary Oliver

12. “When it is over, I don’t want to wonder if I have made of my life something particular, and real. I don’t want to find myself sighing and frightened, or full of argument I don’t want to end up simply having visited this world.”—Mary Oliver

13. “it is a serious thing // just to be alive / on this fresh morning / in this broken world.”— Mary Oliver

14. “I stood willingly and gladly in the characters of everything – other people, trees, clouds. And this is what I learned, that the world’s otherness is antidote to confusion – that standing within this otherness – the beauty and the mystery of the world, out in the fields or deep inside books – can re-dignify the worst-stung heart.”— Mary Oliver

15. “And that is just the point… how the world, moist and beautiful, calls to each of us to make a new and serious response. That’s the big question, the one the world throws at you every morning. “Here you are, alive. Would you like to make a comment?”— Mary Oliver

16. “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

17. “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

18. “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.”— Mary Oliver

19. “So this is how you swim inward. So this is how you flow outwards. So this is how you pray.”—Mary Oliver

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20. “Because of the dog’s joyfulness, our own is increased. It is no small gift. It is not the least reason why we should honor as love the dog of our own life, and the dog down the street, and all the dogs not yet born.”— Mary Oliver

21. “Poetry isn’t a profession; it’s a way of life. It’s an empty basket; you put your life into it and make something out of that.”— Mary Oliver

22. “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

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23. “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

24. “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

25. “So every day I was surrounded by the beautiful crying forth of the ideas of God, one of which was you.”— Mary Oliver

26. “Maybe death isn’t darkness, after all, but so much light wrapping itself around us.”—Mary Oliver

27. “Love yourself. Then forget it.

Then, love the world.”— Mary Oliver

28. “Animals praise a good day, a good hunt. They praise rain if they’re thirsty. That’s prayer. They don’t live an unconscious life, they simply have no language to talk about these things. But they are grateful for the good things that come along.”— Mary Oliver

29 “To tell you the truth, I believe everything – tigers, trees, stones – are sentient in one way or another. You’d never catch me idly kicking a stone, for example.”— Mary Oliver

30. “I’m going to die one day. I know it’s coming for me, too. I’ll be a mountain; I’ll be a stone on the beach. I’ll be nourishment.”— Mary Oliver

31. “He is exactly the poem I wanted to write.”— Mary Oliver

32. “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

33. “I simply do not distinguish between work and play.”— Mary Oliver

34. “Ten times a day something happens to me like this – some strengthening throb of amazement – some good sweet empathic ping and swell. This is the first, the wildest and the wisest thing I know: that the soul exists and is built entirely out of attentiveness.”— Mary Oliver

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35. “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

36. “If you suddenly and unexpectedly feel joy, don’t hesitate. Give in to it…It could be anything, but very likely you notice it in the instant when love begins. Anyway, that’s often the case. Anyway, whatever it is, don’t be afraid of its plenty. Joy is not made to be a crumb.”— Mary Oliver

37. “I held my breath as we do sometimes to stop time when something wonderful has touched us…”— Mary Oliver

38. “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

39. “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.”— Mary Oliver

40. “You can fool a lot of yourself but you can’t fool the soul.”— Mary Oliver

41. “What misery to be afraid of death. What wretchedness, to believe only in what can be proven.”— Mary Oliver

42. “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.”— Mary Oliver

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Video – Interview with Poet Mary Oliver

This is an excellent interview that Mary did with NPR. If you are a fan of her work you will definitely find it worth a watch.

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In conclusion, Mary Oliver is one of the best selling poets of all time. She drew inspiration from Mother Nature, human interaction, and the environment.

Mary recently passed away from cancer in January of 2019 at the age of 83. These quotes help us remember and commemorate her life.

Image Credit: “from Mary Oliver’s ‘The Summer Day'” by academy of american poets is licensed under CC BY-NC-ND 2.0

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