Mary Oliver quotes

  • Whoever you are, no matter how lonely, the world offers itself to your imagination...
    -- Mary Oliver

    #Lonely #Imagination #Matter

  • We all have a hungry heart, and one of the things we hunger for is happiness.
    -- Mary Oliver

    #Heart #Hunger #Hungry

  • 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

    #Love #Inspirational #Life

  • I've always wanted to write poems and nothing else.
    -- Mary Oliver

    #Writing #Wanted

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

    #Inspirational #Life #Teacher

  • 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

    #Beach #Book #Years

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

    #Life #Responsibility #Giving

  • You have to be in the world to understand what the spiritual is about, and you have to be spiritual in order to truly be able to accept what the world is about.
    -- Mary Oliver

    #Spiritual #Order #Able

  • Walks work for me. I enter some arena that is neither conscious or unconscious.
    -- Mary Oliver

    #Arena #Conscious #Walks

  • I want to be braver and more honest about my life. When you're sexually abused, there's a lot of damage.
    -- Mary Oliver

    #Damage #Want #Honest

  • 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 well as love the dog of our own life, and the dog down the street, and all the dogs not yet born. What would the world be like without music or rivers or the green and tender grass? What would this world be like without dogs?
    -- Mary Oliver

    #Dog #Rivers #Honor

  • Keep some room in your heart for the unimaginable.
    -- Mary Oliver

    #Dream #Heart #Rooms

  • Because of the dog’s joyfulness, our own is increased. It is no small gift.
    -- Mary Oliver

    #Dog #Joyfulness

  • 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

    #Dog #Naps #Body

  • 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

    #Inspirational #Beautiful #Morning

  • Snow was falling, so much like stars filling the dak trees that one could easily imagine its reason for being was nothing more the prettiness.
    -- Mary Oliver

    #Stars #Fall #Snow

  • Why I Wake Early Hello, sun in my face. Hello, you who made the morning and spread it over the fields and into the faces of the tulips and the nodding morning glories, and into the windows of, even, the miserable and the crotchety – best preacher that ever was, dear star, that just happens to be where you are in the universe to keep us from ever-darkness, to ease us with warm touching, to hold us in the great hands of light – good morning, good morning, good morning. Watch, now, how I start the day in happiness, in kindness.
    -- Mary Oliver

    #Morning #Stars #Kindness

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

    #Life #Travel #Breathing

  • Every day I walk out into the world / to be dazzled, then to be reflective.
    -- Mary Oliver

    #World #Walks

  • it is a serious thing // just to be alive / on this fresh morning / in this broken world.
    -- Mary Oliver

    #Morning #Broken #World

  • I believe in kindness. Also in mischief. Also in singing, especially when singing is not necessarily prescribed.
    -- Mary Oliver

    #Kindness #Believe #Singing

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

    #Giving #Joy #Feels

  • maybe death isn't darkness, after all, but so much light wrapping itself around us--
    -- Mary Oliver

    #Death #Light #Darkness

  • ...Sometimes I dream that everything in the world is here, in my room, in a great closet, named and orderly, and I am here too, in front of it, hardly able to see for the flash and the brightness- and sometimes I am that madcap person clapping my hands and singing; and sometimes I am that quiet person down on my knees.
    -- Mary Oliver

    #Dream #Hands #Singing

  • I simply do not distinguish between work and play.
    -- Mary Oliver

    #Play #Work And Play

  • Rhythm is one of the most powerful of pleasures, and when we feel a pleasurable rhythm we hope it will continue. When it does, it grows sweeter.
    -- Mary Oliver

    #Powerful #Writing #Doe

  • Instructions for living a life. Pay attention. Be astonished. Tell about it.
    -- Mary Oliver

    #Life #Attention #Pay

  • Joy is not made to be a crumb. (Don't Hesitate)
    -- Mary Oliver

    #Joy #Crumbs #Made

  • Music: what so many sentences aspire to be.
    -- Mary Oliver

    #Sentences

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

    #Blue #Sunflower #World

  • You want to cry aloud for your mistakes. But to tell the truth the world doesn't need any more of that sound.
    -- Mary Oliver

    #Mistake #World #Want

  • He is exactly the poem I wanted to write.
    -- Mary Oliver

    #Writing #Wanted

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

    #Inspirational #Beautiful #Thinking

  • 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

    #Love #Life #Relationship

  • Every word is a messenger. Some have wings; some are filled with fire; some are filled with death.
    -- Mary Oliver

    #Wings #Fire #Messengers

  • I thought the earth remembered me, she took me back so tenderly, arranging her dark skirts, her pockets full of lichens and seeds. I slept as never before, a stone on the river bed, nothing between me and the white fire of the stars but my thoughts, and they floated light as moths among the branches of the perfect trees. All night I heard the small kingdoms breathing around me, the insects, and the birds who do their work in the darkness. All night I rose and fell, as if in water, grappling with a luminous doom. By morning I had vanished at least a dozen times into something better.
    -- Mary Oliver

    #Morning #Stars #Dark

  • 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

    #Morning #Kindness #Fields

  • 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 #Humble #World

  • The dream of my life is to lie down by a slow river and stare at the light in the trees - to learn something by being nothing
    -- Mary Oliver

    #Life #Dream #Lying

  • Said the river: imagine everything you can imagine, then keep on going.
    -- Mary Oliver

    #Rivers #Imagine #Said

  • If you suddenly and unexpectedly feel joy, don't hesitate. Give in to it. There are plenty of lives and whole towns destroyed or about to be. We are not wise, and not very often kind. And much can never be redeemed. Still life has some possibility left. Perhaps this is its way of fighting back, that sometimes something happened better than all the riches or power in the world. 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

    #Wise #Fighting #Love Is

  • 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.
    -- Mary Oliver

    #Dog #Smell #World

  • You only have to let the soft animal of your body love what it loves.
    -- Mary Oliver

    #Animal #Body

  • Tell me about despair, yours, and I will tell you mine
    -- Mary Oliver

    #Despair

  • And who will care, who will chide you if you wander away from wherever you are, to look for your soul?
    -- Mary Oliver

    #Soul #Looks #Care

  • 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

    #Letting Go #Rain #Want

  • 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.
    -- Mary Oliver

    #Children #Want #Fields

  • 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

    #Children #Reading #Substance

  • 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

    #Names #Fire #Sunrise

  • I believe in kindness. Also in mischief.
    -- Mary Oliver

    #Kindness #Believe #Mischief

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

    #Believe #Misery #Afraid Of Death

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

    #Play #Knowing #Touching

  • 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

    #Rivers #Imagination #Live Your Life

  • And I say to my heart: rave on.
    -- Mary Oliver

    #Life #Heart #Rave

  • I have a notion that if you are going to be spiritually curious, you better not get cluttered up with too many material things.
    -- Mary Oliver

    #Follow Your Dreams #Curious #Clutter

  • Let me keep my mind on what matters, which is my work, which is mostly standing still and learning to be astonished.
    -- Mary Oliver

    #What Matters #Mind #Let Me

  • To pay attention, this is our endless and proper work.
    -- Mary Oliver

    #Work #Positivity #Attention

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

    #Needs #Ache #Worthy

  • We all have a hungry heart, and one of the things we hunger for is happiness. So as much as I possibly could, I stayed where I was happy. I spent a great deal of time in my younger years just writing and reading, walking around the woods in Ohio, where I grew up.
    -- Mary Oliver

    #Reading #Writing #Heart

  • 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.
    -- Mary Oliver

    #Self #Tree #Mind

  • Writers sometimes give up what is most strange and wonderful about their writing - soften their roughest edges - to accommodate themselves toward a group response.
    -- Mary Oliver

    #Giving Up #Writing #Groups

  • So this is how you swim inward. So this is how you flow outwards. So this is how you pray.
    -- Mary Oliver

    #Judging #Swim #Flow

  • 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

    #Poetry #Way #Empty

  • The end of life has its own nature, also worth our attention. I don't say this without reckoning in the sorrow, the worry, the many diminishments. But surely it is then that a person's character shines or glooms.
    -- Mary Oliver

    #Character #Worry #Shining

  • 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

    #Morning #Writing #Thinking

  • 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

    #Love #Inspirational #Animal

  • I don't want to end up simply having visited this world.
    -- Mary Oliver

    #World #Want #This World

  • 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

    #Inspirational #Sweet #Soul

  • Sometimes I need only to stand wherever I am to be blessed.
    -- Mary Oliver

    #Attitude #Blessed #Needs

  • 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.
    -- Mary Oliver

    #Love #Inspirational #Mean

  • 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

    #Light #Done #Holiness

  • 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

    #Light #Kill Me #Leaving Me

  • The poet must not only write the poem but must scrutinize the world intensely, or anyway that part of the world he or she has taken for subject. If the poem is thin, it is likely so not because the poet does not know enough words, but because he or she has not stood long enough among the flowers--has not seen them in any fresh, exciting, and valid way.
    -- Mary Oliver

    #Flower #Taken #Writing

  • 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

    #Lasts #Done #Should

  • 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

    #Nature #Stars #Voice

  • My work is loving the world.
    -- Mary Oliver

    #World

  • It's not a competition, it's a doorway.
    -- Mary Oliver

    #Competition #Doorways #Special Education

  • 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

    #Book #Heart #Character

  • 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

    #Fire #Rope #Bread

  • ...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

    #Voice #World #Determined

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

    #Swim #Way #Might

  • There is only one question: / how to love this world.
    -- Mary Oliver

    #How To Love #World #This World

  • 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

    #Love #Wedding #Gratitude

  • Love yourself. Then forget it. Then, love the world.
    -- Mary Oliver

    #Love Yourself #World #Special Education

  • What can we do but keep on breathing in and out, modest and willing, and in our places?
    -- Mary Oliver

    #Life #Breathing #Modest

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

    #World #Littles #Pity

  • Attention is the beginning of devotion.
    -- Mary Oliver

    #Motivational #Attention #Devotion

  • Why should I not sit, every morning of my life, on the hillside, looking into the shining world?
    -- Mary Oliver

    #Morning #Shining #World

  • Always there is something worth saying about glory, about gratitude.
    -- Mary Oliver

    #Gratitude #Glory

  • 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.
    -- Mary Oliver

    #Morning #Worry #Saws

  • Oh, to love what is lovely, and will not last! What a task to ask of anything, or anyone, yet it is ours, and not by the century or the year, but by the hours.
    -- Mary Oliver

    #Years #What Is Love #Lovely

  • I climb, I backtrack. I float. I ramble my way home.
    -- Mary Oliver

    #Home #Way #My Way

  • It is better for the heart to break, than not to break.
    -- Mary Oliver

    #Heart #Special Education #Break

  • Are my boots old? Is my coat torn? / Am I no longer young, and still not half-perfect?
    -- Mary Oliver

    #Perfect #Coats #Boots

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

    #Wonderful #Sometimes #Stop Time

  • Look, hasn't my body already felt like the body of a flower?
    -- Mary Oliver

    #Flower #Body #Looks

  • 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

    #Believe #Mountain #World

  • In the glare of your mind, be modest. And beholden to what is tactile, and thrilling.
    -- Mary Oliver

    #Humility #Mind #Glare

  • Sometimes I spend all day trying to count the leaves on a single tree... Of course I have to give up, but by then I'm half crazy with the wonder of it--the abundance of the leaves, the quietness of the branches, the hopelessness of my effort. And I am in that delicious and important place, roaring with laughter, full of earth-praise.
    -- Mary Oliver

    #Giving Up #Laughter #Crazy

  • Do you love this world? Do you cherish your humble and silky life? Do you adore the green grass, with its terror beneath? Do you also hurry, half-dressed and barefoot, into the garden, and softly, and exclaiming of their dearness, fill your arms with the white and pink flowers, with their honeyed heaviness, their lush trembling, their eagerness to be wild and perfect for a moment, before they are nothing, forever?
    -- Mary Oliver

    #Flower #Humble #Garden