mary oliver quotes

24 Beautiful Mary Oliver Quotes to Begin Your Beautiful Day With

Mary Oliver was a well-loved American poet and winner of prestigious awards like the National Book Award and Pulitzer Prize. Much of her acclaimed work is inspired by her deep love for nature. Her poetry makes you want to slow down the pace of your life and take it as it comes. Check out these Mary Oliver quotes that are sure to infuse a touch of freshness into your life.

24 Mary Oliver Quotes That Will Make You Love Your Life

Mary Oliver Quotes That Are Keys to Life

#1. “Instructions for living a life. Pay attention. Be astonished. Tell about it.” ― Mary Oliver, Sometimes

#2. “Tell me, what is it you plan to do with your one wild and precious life?” ― Mary Oliver

#3. “Listen―are you breathing just a little, and calling it a life?” ― Mary Oliver

#4. “To pay attention, this is our endless and proper work.” ― Mary Oliver

#5. “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

#6. “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, Upstream

#7. “You must not ever stop being whimsical. And you must not, ever, give anyone else the responsibility for your life.” ― Mary Oliver, Wild Geese

#8. “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. When it is over, I don’t want to wonder. if I have made of my life something particular, and real. I don’t want to find myself sighing and frightened, or full of argument. I don’t want to end up simply having visited this world.” ― Mary Oliver

Mary Oliver Quotes on Love

#9. “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

#10. “Love yourself. Then forget it. Then, love the world.” ― Mary Oliver, Evidence: Poems

Mary Oliver Quotes on Wit and Wisdom

#11. “I believe in kindness. Also, in mischief. Also, in singing, especially when singing is not necessarily prescribed.” ― Mary Oliver

#12. “Knowledge has entertained me and it has shaped me and it has failed me. Something in me still starves.” ― Mary Oliver, Upstream

Mary Oliver Quotes for That Little Spark of Inspiration

#13. “Keep some room in your heart for the unimaginable.” ― Mary Oliver

#14. “I want to think again of dangerous and noble things. I want to be light and frolicsome. I want to be improbable beautiful and afraid of nothing, as though I had wings.” ― Mary Oliver, Owls and Other Fantasies: Poems and Essays

#15. “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

#16. “Sometimes I need only to stand wherever I am to be blessed.” ― Mary Oliver, Evidence: Poems

#17. “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

#18. “It is a serious thing just to be alive on this fresh morning in this broken world.” — Mary Oliver, Invitation

#19. “Whoever you are, no matter how lonely, the world offers itself to your imagination, calls to you like the wild geese, harsh and exciting – over and over announcing your place in the family of things.” — Mary Oliver, Wild Geese

Mary Oliver Quotes on Nature and Devotion

#20. “If you have ever gone to the woods with me, I must love you very much.” ― Mary Oliver, Swan: Poems and Prose Poems

#21. “For me the door to the woods is the door to the temple.” — Mary Oliver, Upstream

#22. “Maybe the desire to make something beautiful is the piece of God that is inside each of us.” — Mary Oliver, Devotions

#23. “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

#24. “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. Tell me about despair, yours, and I will tell you mine. Meanwhile the world goes on. Meanwhile the sun and the clear pebbles of the rain are moving across the landscapes, over the prairies and the deep trees, the mountains and the rivers. Meanwhile the wild geese, high in the clean blue air, are heading home again.” ― Mary Oliver


Even decades later, the simple language and natural imagery that feature in most Mary Oliver quotes continue to draw readers in. It will give you solace while also opening your eyes to some hard-hitting truths.

Image source: Mary Oliver photo from

Similar Posts