HomeCulture30 Mary Oliver Quotes About Hope

30 Mary Oliver Quotes About Hope

Who is Mary Oliver

Mary Oliver was a famous American poet and non-fiction author, who won the Pulitzer Prize and National Book Award. She believed that poetry wasn’t for the elite and that poems didn’t have to be grandiose or pulled from the spectacular. It was the simple and relatable things all around us that inspired her poems. Mary Oliver passed on January 17th of 2019. While she may be gone, Mary Oliver quotes poems about hope and how to carry on are still inspiring people around the world.

Mary Oliver’s words we need them most

Mary Oliver is perhaps best known for her expansive collection of poems about hope, and as a direct result, you’ve likely noticed the increased sharing of Mary Oliver quotes across the internet and social media feeds over the last handful of years. We are living in dark times right now. With women’s reproductive rights being stripped from them in America and social and political injustices occurring all over the world, I find myself turning to Mary Oliver quotes and poems about hope repeatedly for a little peace. Read on for my personal favorite.

24 Mary Oliver Quotes that Inspire Hope

Mary Oliver quotes, Mary Oliver poems about hope

One of the things about Mary Oliver’s work that I love the most is how it reminds us of what life is truly meant to be like: whimsical, wild, exciting. The following are Mary Oliver quotes reminding us never to give that part of who we are naturally up.

“I simply do not distinguish between work and play.” MO

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

“I try to be good but sometimes a person just has to break out and act like the wild and springy thing one used to be. It’s impossible not to remember wild and want it back.” ― Mary Oliver

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

“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. ”

 “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.
― Mary Oliver

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

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

“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

Mary Oliver quotes for writers

What people may not know is that Mary Oliver also wrote books for writers who wanted to be poets. In fact, she wrote A Poetry Handbook.  The following are quotes that inspire hope and offer her advice for creatives, including writers and poets.

mary oliver quotes

“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

“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

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

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

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

Mary Oliver Quotes about Love

Unsurprisingly, Mary Oliver wrote plenty of poems with lessons about how to love better, harder and truer.

Mary Oliver Quotes, quotes that inspire

“So it is, if the heart devotes itself to love, there is not a single inch of emptiness.” ― Mary Oliver

 “Love, love, love, says Percy. And hurry as fast as you can along the shining beach, or the rubble, or the dust. Then, go to sleep. Give up your body heat, your beating heart. Then, trust.” ― Mary Oliver

“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

 “If you suddenly and unexpectedly feel joy, don’t hesitate. Give in to it.” ― 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.” ― 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

“There are a hundred paths through the world that are easier than loving.” 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

Mary Oliver Quotes About Navigating Life

Mary Oliver Quotes, Quotes that inspire

And of course, so many of Mary Oliver’s poems and pieces of writing deal with dealing with the art of living. Something that is a mystery to most of us. In her work, many find direction, understanding, self-reflection and understanding. The following are Mary Oliver quotes that inspire and give gentle direction and insight.

“Though I play at the edges of knowing, truly I know our part is not knowing, but looking, and touching, and loving” ― Mary Oliver

“After a cruel childhood, one must reinvent oneself. Then re-imagine the world.”― Mary Oliver

“Therefore, dark past, I’m about to do it. I’m about to forgive you for everything” ― Mary Oliver

My work is loving the world. Here the sunflowers, there the hummingbird—equal seekers of sweetness. ― Mary Oliver

“In this universe we are given two gifts: the ability to love, and the ability to ask questions. Which are, at the same time, the fires that warm us and the fires that scorch us.” — Mary Oliver

“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

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

“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

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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.