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

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.
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

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

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

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

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

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

I worked probably 25 years by myself, just writing and working, not trying to publish much, not giving readings.
Mary Oliver

I was very careful never to take an interesting job. If you have an interesting job, you get interested in it.
Mary Oliver

My first two books are out of print and, okay, they can sleep there comfortably. It’s early work, derivative work.
Mary Oliver

If I’ve done my work well, I vanish completely from the scene. I believe it is invasive of the work when you know too much about the writer.
Mary Oliver

In college, you learn how to learn. Four years is not too much time to spend at that.
Mary Oliver

I have a notebook with me all the time, and I begin scribbling a few words. When things are going well, the walk does not get anywhere; I finally just stop and write.
Mary Oliver

Almost anything is too much. I am trying in my poems to have the reader be the experiencer. I do not want to be there. It is not even a walk we take together.
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

I love the line of Flaubert about observing things very intensely. I think our duty as writers begins not with our own feelings, but with the powers of observing.
Mary Oliver

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

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

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

I consider myself kind of a reporter – one who uses words that are more like music and that have a choreography. I never think of myself as a poet; I just get up and write.
Mary Oliver

I very much wished not to be noticed, and to be left alone, and I sort of succeeded.
Mary Oliver

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

I think one thing is that prayer has become more useful, interesting, fruitful, and… almost involuntary in my life.
Mary Oliver

To find a new word that is accurate and different, you have to be alert for it.
Mary Oliver

One thing I do know is that poetry, to be understood, must be clear.
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 worked privately, and sometimes I feel that might be better for poets than the kind of social workshop gathering. My school was the great poets: I read, and I read, and I read.
Mary Oliver

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

There is nothing better than work. Work is also play; children know that. Children play earnestly as if it were work. But people grow up, and they work with a sorrow upon them. It’s duty.
Mary Oliver

People want poetry. They need poetry. They get it. They don’t want fancy work.
Mary Oliver

My parents didn’t care very much what I did, and that was probably a blessing.
Mary Oliver

I’ve always wanted to write poems and nothing else.
Mary Oliver

Apparently, I’ve been considered a recluse.
Mary Oliver

I had a very dysfunctional family, and a very hard childhood. So I made a world out of words. And it was my salvation.
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

Mary Oliver Life Quotes
I have the feeling that a lot of poets writing now are – they sort of tap dance through it.
Mary Oliver

I always feel that whatever isn’t necessary shouldn’t be in a poem.
Mary Oliver

Sometimes breaking the rules is extending the rules.
Mary Oliver

Writers must… take care of the sensibility that houses the possibility of poems.
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

I grew up in a confused house: too much unwanted attention or none at all.
Mary Oliver

I’d rather write about polar bears than people.
Mary Oliver

I would rather write poems than prose, any day, any place. Yet each has its own force.
Mary Oliver

Instead of taking the reader by the hand and running him down the hill, I want to lead him into a house of many rooms, and leave him alone in each of them.
Mary Oliver

Poetry is one of the ancient arts, and it began as did all the fine arts, within the original wilderness of the earth.
Mary Oliver

Words have not only a definition… but also the felt quality of their own kind of sound.
Mary Oliver

You can fool a lot of yourself but you can’t fool the soul.
Mary Oliver

I went to India and was quite taken with it. There’s a feeling there that things are holy first and useful second.
Mary Oliver

I read Rumi, the 13th-century Persian poet, every day.
Mary Oliver

The challenge is to keep up with all the new poets at the same time I love the old ones.
Mary Oliver

I like books that are fat and full.
Mary Oliver

I believe art is utterly important. It is one of the things that could save us.
Mary Oliver

I know the sag of the unfinished poem. And I know the release of the poem that is finished.
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

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

I’m going to die one day. I know it’s coming for me, too. I’ll be a mountain, I’ll be a stone on the beach. I’ll be nourishment.
Mary Oliver

I learn a lot about my poems when I read them by the way people respond to them.
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

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

Poetry is meant to be heard.
Mary Oliver

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

I acknowledge my feeling and gratitude for life by praising the world and whoever made all these things.
Mary Oliver

If I have any lasting worth, it will be because I have tried to make people remember what the Earth is meant to look like.
Mary Oliver

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