Famous 100 + Mary Oliver Quotes about Nature, Aging, Love, and Hope

Here are a few most memorable Mary Oliver Quotes from her poetry collections.

Mary Oliver was a phenomenal American poet who impacted the lives of millions of people throughout the world.

Her poetry is timeless and culturally relevant. She wrote on a variety of topics such as nature, life, love, animals, and so on.

For your enjoyment, we’ve compiled a collection of the finest Mary Oliver poetry quotes.

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

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

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

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

Maybe death isn’t darkness, after all.

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

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

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

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.

He is exactly the poem I wanted to write.

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

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.

Sometimes breaking the rules is extending the rules.

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

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

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

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.

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

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

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 Quotes Nature

Here are some Mary Oliver quotes from her poems about nature.

Mary Oliver is a well-known American poet and nonfiction author who has received the Pulitzer Prize and the National Book Award for her works American Primitive and House of Light. She is far and away, the country’s top-selling poet, according to the New York Times. Her work is mostly centered on nature and beauty, to portray respect for the environment’s attractions, which brings delight and contemplation to the readers. Her work is focused on the small pleasures in life that may provide joy, which most people overlook in their chase of greater materialistic stuff. She has depicted actual gorgeous sights that exalt Mother Earth’s beauty via her words.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Snow was falling, so much like stars.

I’d rather write about polar bears than people.

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

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

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.

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

Mary Oliver Quotes on Aging and Moving on

We’ve gathered some of Mary Oliver’s statements and sayings about books, children, Earth, gratitude, heaven, love, joy, inspiration, morning, nature, poetry, rain, soul, spring, summer, teachers, and the universe from her novels, poems, and life. Browse these inspiring quotations from one of our generation’s best poets, and perhaps you’ll get a new appreciation for God’s gift of nature.

Mary Oliver Quotes on Aging and Moving on

Maybe death isn’t darkness after all, but so much light wrapping itself around us.

Said the river, ‘Imagine everything you can imagine, then keep on going.’

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.

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

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

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.

Sometimes, the desire to be lost again, as long ago, comes over me like a vapor.

With growth into adulthood, responsibilities claimed me so many heavy coats. I didn’t choose them, I don’t fault them, but it took time to reject them.

Scatter your flowers over the graves, and walk away. Be good-natured and untidy in your exuberance.

Look, hasn’t my body already felt like the body of a flower?

The face of the moose is as sad as the face of Jesus.

Maybe it’s about the wonderful things that may happen if you break the ropes that are holding you.

When death comes, I want to step through the door full of curiosity, wondering—what it’s going to be like, that cottage of darkness?

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Certainly, there is within each of us a self that is neither a child nor a servant of the hours. It is a third self, occasional in some of us, a tyrant in others.

This self is out of love with the ordinary; it is out of love with time. It has a hunger for eternity.

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.

What’s magical sometimes has deeper roots than reason.

Teach the children. We don’t matter so much, but the children do.

Then I remember—death comes before the rolling away of the stone.

Winter walks up and down the town swinging his censer, but no smoke or sweetness comes from it—only the sour, metallic frankness of salt and snow.

That time, I thought I could not go any closer to grief without dying. I went closer, and I did not die.

I swung the door open, and there was the wordless, singing world; and I ran for my life.

Mary Oliver Quotes Love

Here are some of Mary Oliver’s most renowned love poetry phrases. Quotes about love abound in her writings, so here are a few of the most lovely.

Mary Oliver Quotes Love

From the complications of loving you, I think there is no end or return.

I know many lives worth living.

You do not have to be good. You do not have to walk on your knees for a hundred miles through the desert, repenting.

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

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

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

It is better for the heart to break, than not to break.

Keep some room in your heart for the unimaginable.

If you have ever gone to the woods with me, I must love you very much.

Someone I loved once gave me a box full of darkness. It took me years to understand that this too, was a gift.

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

Love yourself. Then forget it. Then, love the world.

Mary Oliver Quotes on Hope

Mary Oliver Quotes on Hope

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

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.

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.

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

For some things, there are no wrong seasons—which is what I dream of for me.

Things take the time they take. Don’t worry. How many roads did St. Augustine follow before he became St. Augustine?

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

May I be the tiniest nail in the house of the universe—tiny but useful.

I would say that there exist a thousand unbreakable links between each of us and everything else and that our dignity and our chances are one.

The pine tree, the leopard, the Platte River, and ourselves—we are at risk together, or we are on our way to a sustainable world together. We are each other’s destiny.

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Though I play at the edges of knowing, truly, I know our part is not knowing; but looking, and touching, and loving.

Always, there is something worth saying about glory, about gratitude.

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

This is to say nothing against afternoons, evenings, or even midnight. Each has its portion of the spectacular.

How could there be a day in your whole life that doesn’t have its splash of happiness?

Mary Oliver Quotes on Friendship

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

I held my breath, as we do sometimes, to stop time when something wonderful has touched us.

From the complications of loving you, I think there is no end or return. No answer, no coming out of it. Which is the only way to love, isn’t it?

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

I know many lives worth living.

You may not agree, you may not care, but if you are holding this book you should know that of all the sights I love in this world—and there are plenty—very near the top of the list is this one: dogs without leashes.

Attention is the beginning of devotion.

My work is the world. Here the sunflowers, there the hummingbird – equal seekers of sweetness. Here the quickening yeast; there the blue plums…

Things! Burn them, burn them! Make a beautiful fire! More room in your heart for love, for the trees! For the birds who own nothing—the reason they can fly.

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

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

Every morning, I walk like this around the pond, thinking—if the doors of my heart ever close, I am as good as dead.

The farthest star and the mud at our feet are a family, and there is no decency or sense in honoring one thing, or a few things, and then closing the list.

You, too, can be carved anew by the details of your devotion.

My life without you would be a place of parched and broken trees.

If you have ever gone to the woods with me, I must love you very much.

What I mean by spirituality is not theology, but attitude.

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

Even the most solitudinous of us is communal by habit, and indeed by the commitment to the bravest of our dreams, which is to make a moral world.

If I had another life, I would want to spend it all on some unstinting happiness.

Be ignited, or be gone.

You have broken my heart. Just as well. Now, I am learning to rise above all that, learning the thin life, waking up simply to praise everything in this world that is strong and beautiful always—the trees, the rocks, the fields, the news from heaven, and the laughter that comes back all the same.

Wild sings the bird of the heart in the forests of our lives.

Happiness isn’t a town on a map, or an early arrival, or a job well done, but good work ongoing.

So, be slow if you must, but let the heart still play its true part. Love still as once you loved, deeply and without patience.

If the world were only pain and logic, who would want it?

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