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Mary Oliver Quotes On Life for the New Year

The Power of Mary Oliver’s Words

My obsession with writing began with poetry in grade school. I cherished my hardcover copy of The Complete Poems of Winnie-the-Pooh with its beautifully illustrated dust jacket. And so I decided to try my own hand at the art of poetry which began the path that would eventually lead me to my love for memorizing Mary Oliver quotes and poems. It wasn’t until I was in college that my writing began to mature from singsongy love poems to something more meaningful—the credit for my evolution belonging firmly to the gifted poets I was reading. Maya Angelou, Mary Oliver, Sharon Olds, and Joy Harjo all showed me how valuable a woman’s voice in the written word could be.

I went from sweetly reciting A. A. Milne’s “Sneezles” in front of a room of 5th graders to boldly acting out Miss Angelou’s “Phenomenal Woman” in front of an audience of graduating seniors in University.  And while I would say that it was Maya Angelou who solidified my passion for poetry, it was Mary Oliver who changed my life with a single poem: Wild Geese. And that is why looking toward the new year, once again I find myself looking for guidance and words of wisdom while reading through Marily Oliver quotes on life.

Say I Love You Gifts

Why we need Mary Oliver’s wisdom in 2021

Being a woman is hard, but becoming a woman is harder. Making my way through life has required searching for inspiration and I found it in the following words pulled from 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.

These 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.

With 2020 and 2021 taking a toll on all of us, now is the perfect time to turn to the wisdom of Mary Oliver for reassurance. The following are Mary Oliver quotes about life that will help you keep your head. You will see that within them you find a bit of everything you need to keep embracing the best in life.

Reassuring Words

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

“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 Poems, Mary Oliver Quotes On Life

“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

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Annette Benedetti
Annette Benedettihttps://sheexploreslife.com
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.