Top 100

Top 380 Mary Oliver Quotes (2023 Update)
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Mary Oliver Quote: “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 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. 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.”
Mary Oliver Quote: “What I mean by spirituality is not theology, but attitude.”
Mary Oliver Quote: “How shall I go on, with my introspective and ambitious life?”
Mary Oliver Quote: “And you must not, ever, give anyone else the responsibility for your life.”
Mary Oliver Quote: “We do not love anything more deeply than we love a story...”
Mary Oliver Quote: “I read my books with diligence, and mounting skill, and gathering certainty. I read the way a person might swim, to save his or her life.”
Mary Oliver Quote: “As a carpenter can make a gibbet as well as an altar, a writer can describe the world as trivial or exquisite, as material or as idea, as senseless or as purposeful. Words are wood.”
Mary Oliver Quote: “To believe in the soul – to believe in it exactly as much and as hardily as one believes in a mountain, say, or a fingernail, which is ever in view – imagine the consequences! How far-reaching, and thoroughly wonderful! For everything, by such a belief, would be charged, and changed. You wake in the morning, the soul exists, your mouth sings it, your mind accepts it. And the perceived, tactile world is, upon the instant, only half the world!”
Mary Oliver Quote: “I am burdened with anxiety. Anxiety for the lamb with his bitter future, anxiety for my own body, and, not least, anxiety for my own soul. You can fool a lot of yourself but you can’t fool the soul. That worrier.”
Mary Oliver Quote: “My first two books are out of print and, okay, they can sleep there comfortably. It’s early work, derivative work.”
Mary Oliver Quote: “Though I play at the edges of knowing, truly I know our part is not knowing, but looking, and touching, and loving, which is the way I walked on, softly, through the pale-pink morning light.”
Mary Oliver Quote: “The poem in which the reader does not feel himself or herself a participant is a lecture, listened to from an uncomfortable chair, in a stuffy room, inside a building.”
Mary Oliver Quote: “In my own work, I usually revise through forty or fifty drafts of a poem before I begin to feel content with it.”
Mary Oliver Quote: “The world has need of dreamers as well as shoemakers.”
Mary Oliver Quote: “This is to say nothing against afternoons, evenings or even midnight. Each has its portion of the spectacular. But dawn – dawn is a gift. Much is revealed about a person about his or her passion, or indifference, to this opening of the door of day. No one who loves dawn, and is abroad to see it, could be a stranger to me.”
Mary Oliver Quote: “But literature, the best of it, does not aim to be literature. It wants and strives, beyond that artifact part of itself, to be a true part of the composite human record – that is, not words but a reality.”
Mary Oliver Quote: “Who can open the door who does not reach for the latch? Who can travel the miles who does not put one foot in front of the other, all attentive to what presents itself continually? Who will behold the inner chamber who has not observed with admiration, even with rapture, the outer stone? Well, there is time left – fields everywhere invite you into them.”
Mary Oliver Quote: “He was, of course, a piece of the sky. His eyes said so. This is not a face; this is the other part of knowing something, when there is no proof, but neither is there any way toward disbelief. Imagine lifting the lid from a jar and finding it filled not with darkness but with light. Bird was like that. Startling, elegant, alive.”
Mary Oliver Quote: “The working, concentrating artist is an adult who refuses interruption from himself, who remains absorbed and energized in and by the work – who is thus responsible to the work.”
Mary Oliver Quote: “But, to write well it is entirely necessary to read widely and deeply. Good poems are the best teachers. Perhaps they are the only teachers. I would go so far as to say that, if one must make a choice between reading or taking part in a workshop, one should read.”
Mary Oliver Quote: “How can we ever stop looking? How can we ever turn away?”
Mary Oliver Quote: “To be contemporary is to rise through the stack of the past, like the fire through the mountain. Only a heat so deeply and intelligently born can carry a new idea into the air.”
Mary Oliver Quote: “I want the poem to ask something and, at its best moments, I want the question to remain unanswered.”
Mary Oliver Quote: “All culture developed as some wild, raw creature strived to live better and longer.”
Mary Oliver Quote: “I suppose they, those lives soaked in evil, are miserable and so they ever despise happiness. I suppose they feel powerless and therefore must exert power wherever they can, which is so often upon those unable to comprehend what is happening, much less defend themselves.”
Mary Oliver Quote: “What would it be like to live one whole day as a Ruskin sentence, wandering like a creek with little comma bridges?”
Mary Oliver Quote: “How sometimes everything closes up, a painted fan, landscapes and moments flowing together until the sense of distance – say, between Clapp’s Pond and me – vanishes, edges slide together like the feathers of a wing, everything touches everything.”
Mary Oliver Quote: “What is my name, o what is my name that I may offer it back to the beautiful world? Have I walked long enough where the sea breaks raspingly all day and all night upon the pale sand?”
Mary Oliver Quote: “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 Quote: “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 Quote: “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, 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. Intellectual.”
Mary Oliver Quote: “I want to sit down on the sand and look around and get dreamy; I want to see what spirits are peeking out of the faces of the roses.”
Mary Oliver Quote: “I’m older than I used to be, and therefore I understand things nobody would think of who’s young and in a hurry.”
Mary Oliver Quote: “Reading, then writing, then desiring to write well, shaped in me that most joyful of circumstances – a passion for work.”
Mary Oliver Quote: “Who can guess the impatience of stone to be ground down, to be a part of something livelier?”
Mary Oliver Quote: “Nobody owns the hearts of birds.”
Mary Oliver Quote: “What is your heart doing now? “Remembering. Remembering!”
Mary Oliver Quote: “When men sell their souls, where do the souls go?”
Mary Oliver Quote: “It is the news that no one is singular, that no argument will change the course, that one’s time is more gone than not, and what is left waits to be spent gracefully and attentively, if not quite so actively.”
Mary Oliver Quote: “And what has consciousness come to anyway, so far, that is better than these light-filled bodies?”
Mary Oliver Quote: “But first and foremost, I learned from Whitman that the poem is a temple – or a green field – a place to enter, and in which to feel. Only in a secondary way is it an intellectual thing – an artifact, a moment of seemly and robust wordiness – wonderful as that part of it is. I learned that the poem was made not just to exist, but to speak – to be company.”
Mary Oliver Quote: “Imagination is better than a sharp instrument. To pay attention, this is our endless and proper work.”
Mary Oliver Quote: “Imagine lifting the lid from a jar and finding it filled not with darkness but with light.”
Mary Oliver Quote: “In creative work – creative work of all kinds – those who are the world’s working artists are not trying to help the world go around, but forward.”
Mary Oliver Quote: “Inside every mind, there’s a hermit’s cave full of light.”
Mary Oliver Quote: “I could not be a poet without the natural world. Someone else could. But not me. For me the door to the woods is the door to the temple.”
Mary Oliver Quote: “I would write praise poems that might serve as comforts, reminders, or even cautions if needed, to wayward minds and unawakened hearts.”
Mary Oliver Quote: “Poetry is one of the original arts, and it began, as did all the fine arts, within the original wilderness of the earth.”
Mary Oliver Quote: “To understand many things you must reach out of your own condition.”
Mary Oliver Quote: “I cherish two sentences and keep them close to my desk. The first is by Flaubert. I came upon it among Van Gough’s letters. It says, simply, ‘Talent is long patience, and originality an effort of will and of intense observation.”
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