HomeCulture35 Mary Oliver Quotes On Life for the New Year

35 Mary Oliver Quotes On Life for the New Year

The Power of Mary Oliver’s Words

2023 is officially here! As you slowly recover from your New Year’s Eve shenanigans and prepare to take the world on like the badass babes you are, it’s fair to look for a little inspiration before getting after those New Year’s resolutions. When it comes to inspiration, I’ve always looked to poets and artists to give me that fresh perspective on life I need at the top of each year. Who better to turn to than Mary Oliver, who is arguably both a poet and the guru of how to live life well. Mary Oliver’s writings are filled with inspiring quotes about life that span birth through death, so finding a Mary Oliver quote on life to fit your need in any moment…well, it’s not too hard.

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Her work is full of her thoughts and hard-earned lessons about living. One of my all-time favorite quotes comes for Mary Oliver’s poem Wild Geese:

Mary Oliver Quotes on Life

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.

This and many other quotes provide the guidance we can all use as we move into the new year with new hopes and the feeling of having a new lease on life.

Mary Oliver loved the world simply and perfectly. She loved life, and she understood how to live it.

The following are Mary Oliver quotes about life that constantly keeps me inspired. You will see that within them you find a bit of everything you need to keep embracing the best in life.

Mary Oliver Quotes On Life

The following are 30 Mary Oliver quotes that tell you everything you need to know about life and living.

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

“Every morning I walk like this around the pond, thinking: if the doors of my heart ever close, I am as good as dead.” ― MO

Mary Oliver Quotes on Life

“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

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

“I held my breath as we do sometimes to stop time when something wonderful has touched us… ― MO

“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

“I know many lives worth living.” ― MO

Love yourself. Then forget it. Then, love the world.” —Mary Oliver

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“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

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

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

“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

Mary Oliver Quotes, Inspiring Quotes

“Sometimes I need
only to stand
wherever I am
to be blessed.”
― Mary Oliver

“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

“We need beauty because it makes us ache to be worthy of it.” ― Mary Oliver

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

“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

“Let me keep my distance, always, from those who think they have the answers.” —Mary Oliver

“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

“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

“It is a serious thing /just to be alive / on this fresh morning / in this broken world.”

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

Mary Oliver Quotes

“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

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

“Poetry is a life-cherishing force. 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

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

“Then, go to sleep. Give up your body heat, your beating heart.
Then, trust.” ― Mary Oliver

“I don’t want to end up simply having visited this world.” ― Mary Oliver

“Maybe death isn’t darkness, after all, but so much light wrapping itself around us.” —Mary Oliver

“What misery to be afraid of death. What wretchedness, to believe only in what can be proven.” ― MO

“The most regretful people on earth are those who felt the call to creative work, who felt their own creative power restive and uprising, and gave to it neither power nor time.”
― Mary Oliver

“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

“It is better for the heart to break, than not to break.” ― MO

“maybe death
isn’t darkness, after all,
but so much light
wrapping itself around us–” ― MO

“maybe death
isn’t darkness, after all,
but so much light
wrapping itself around us–” ― MO

Read more…




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Annette Benedetti
Annette Benedetti
Annette is a writer, editor and photographer from Portland, OR. Her work appears in a variety of publications including Bust, Red Tricycle, Motherly and Domino. When she’s away from her desk she can be found teaching women yoga at wilderness retreats, exploring new cities across the states and hiking the trails at Mt. Rainier—one of her favorite places on earth.