51+ 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

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

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

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

Believe me, if anybody has a job and starts at 9, there’s no reason why they can’t get up at 4:30 or five and write for a couple of hours, and give their employers their second-best effort of the day which is what I did. Mary Oliver

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

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

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

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

I don’t want to end up simply having visited this world. Mary Oliver

It’s very important to write things down instantly, or you can lose the way you were thinking out a line. I have a rule that if I wake up at 3 in the morning and think of something, I write it down. I can’t wait until morning  it’ll be gone. Mary Oliver

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

The woods that I loved as a child are entirely gone. The woods that I loved as a young adult are gone. The woods that most recently I walked in are not gone, but they’re full of bicycle trails. Mary Oliver

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

As a child, what captivated me was reading the poems myself and realizing that there was a world without material substance which was nevertheless as alive as any other. 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. Mary Oliver

I decided very early that I wanted to write. But I didn’t think of it as a career. I didn’t even think of it as a profession It was the most exciting thing, the most powerful thing, the most wonderful thing to do with my life. 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 and want it back. Mary Oliver

There were times over the years when life was not easy, but if you’re working a few hours a day and you’ve got a good book to read, and you can go outside to the beach and dig for clams, you’re okay. Mary Oliver

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

At the time I was growing up, literature was involved with the so-called confessional poets. And I was not interested in that. I did not think that specific and personal perspective functioned well for the reader at all. Mary Oliver

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

Wasn’t it Emerson who said, My life is for itself and not for a spectacle? I have a happy, full, good life because I hold it private. Mary Oliver

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Love yourself. Then forget it. Then, love the 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

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

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

In the beginning I was so young and such a stranger to myself I hardly existed. I had to go out into the world and see it and hear it and react to it, before I knew at all who I was, what I was, what I wanted to be. 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. Mary Oliver

Wherever I am, the world comes after me. It offers me its busyness. It does not believe that I do not want it. Now I understand why the old poets of China went so far and high into the mountains, then crept into the pale mist. 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

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

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

Also I wanted to be able to love And we all know how that one goes, don’t we? Mary Oliver

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