50+ Best Mary Oliver Quotes: Exclusive Selection

Mary Jane Oliver was an American poet who won the National Book Award and the Pulitzer Prize. Her work reflects a deep communion with the natural world. Inspirational Mary Oliver quotes will encourage you to think a little deeper than you usually would and broaden your perspective.

If you’re searching for quotes by famous poets that perfectly capture what you’d like to say or just want to feel inspired yourself, browse through an amazing collection of profound Hermann Hesse quotes, amazing Atticus quotes and top Langston Hughes quotes.

Famous Mary Oliver Quotes

Let me keep company always with those who say ‘Look!’ and laugh in astonishment, and bow their heads.

In the beginning I was so young and such a stranger to myself I hardly existed.

Finally I saw that worrying had come to nothing. And gave it up. And took my old body and went out into the morning, and sang.

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

Sometimes breaking the rules is extending the rules.

I stood willingly and gladly in the characters of everything – other people, trees, clouds.

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.

Mary Oliver quotes

I thought the earth remembered me.

I’d rather write about polar bears than people.

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.

He is exactly the poem I wanted to write.

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.

I can hear the almost unhearable sound of the roses singing.

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

Ten times a day something happens to me like this – some strengthening throb of amazement – some good sweet empathic ping and swell.

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

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.

Let me keep my distance, always, from those who think they have the answers.

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.

Watch, now, how I start the day-in happiness, in kindness.

You have to be spiritual in order to truly be able to accept what the world is about.

All night I heard the small kingdoms breathing around me, the insects, and the birds who do their work in the darkness.

You want to cry aloud for your mistakes. But to tell the truth the world doesn’t need anymore of that sound.

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

Knowledge has entertained me and it has shaped me and it has failed me.

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

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.

Inspirational Mary Oliver Quotes

Listen, says ambition, nervously shifting her weight from one boot to another—why don’t you get going?

I want to believe that the imperfections are nothing—that the light is everything.

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

I think, in my whole life, I have never missed the full moon.

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

This is the first, the wildest and the wisest thing I know: that the soul exists and is built entirely out of attentiveness.

Tell me, what else should I have done? Doesn’t everything die at last, and too soon?

Snow was falling, so much like stars.

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

Today is a day like any other: twenty-four hours, a little sunshine, a little rain.

For how many years have you gone through the house, shutting the windows, while the rain was still five miles away.

Meanwhile the wild geese, high in the clean blue air, are heading home again.

Maybe death isn’t darkness, after all.

One could easily imagine its reason for being was nothing more than prettiness.

As you left their voices behind, the stars began to burn through the sheets of clouds.

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.

For me the door to the woods is the door to the temple.

In ten thousand years, maybe, a piece of the mountain will fall.

I want to see how many stars are still in the sky. That we have smothered for years now, a century at least.

Tell me about despair, yours, and I will tell you mine. Meanwhile the world goes on.

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

Maybe our world will grow kinder eventually.

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.

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