These Mary Oliver Quotes Will Make You Fall In Love With Her Poetry

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Mary Oliver’s poetry is some of the most eye-opening, brilliant writing I have ever read. 

Oliver is an American poet who has won both the National Book Award and the Pulitzer Prize. Her poetry is often set in nature, and one of the poet’s life goals was to remind people about the world, in case they forgot. All of her poetry is characterized by wonderment, imagination, and heightened language. She is the Whitman and Thoreau of the modern century, and today, we’re sharing some of our favorite poetic lines she’s written.

On Faith

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“Maybe the desire to make something beautiful is the piece of God that is inside each of us.”

“Sometimes I need/ only to stand/ wherever I am/ to be blessed.”

“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.”

“There are things you can’t reach. But you can reach out to them, and all day long.”

“You can have other words — chance, luck, coincidence, serendipity. I’ll take grace. I don’t know what it is exactly, but I’ll take it.”

On Living

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

“I don’t want to end up simply having visited this world.”

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

“Listen — are you breathing just a little, and calling it life?”

On Art and Poetry

“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 the power nor time.”

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

“I believe art is utterly important. It is the one thing that could save us.”

“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.”

On Wonderment

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“Still what I want in my life is to be willing to be dazzled — to cast aside the weight of facts.”

“You must never stop being whimsical. And you must not ever give anyone else the responsibility for your life.”

“Keep some room in your heart for the unimaginable.”


Have you heard these Mary Oliver quotes before? What is your favorite quote? Comment below!

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