60 Mary Oliver Quotes On Life, Love, & Gratitude

Mary Oliver was a famous American poet who won the Pulitzer Prize and the National Book Award for her works “American Primitive” and “House of Light” respectively. Here are the best Mary Oliver quotes about life, love, nature, gratitude, and the pursuit of happiness that will help you find solace in the beauty of the ordinary.

Oliver’s deep communion with the natural world inspires her work, earning her a well-deserved place among the most beloved nature poets.

Her poetry, known for its simplicity and clarity, possesses the transformative ability to evoke wonder and introspection.

As a keen observer of nature and life’s intricacies, Oliver explored the themes of love, loss, joy, gratitude, and wonder in her poems.

Some of her notable works include The House of Light, A Thousand Mornings, No Voyage and Other Poems, and The Night Traveler.

Her best poem  ‘Wild Geese,’ is a beautiful poem about the nature of life and happiness. Some of the other loved poems include Flare, The Summer Day, and The Journey.

Below we have compiled some of the most motivational Mary Oliver quotes from her books, poems, and life experiences that will change your perspective on life.

Top 10 Mary Oliver Quotes

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

    Mary Oliver Quotes
    Mary Oliver Quotes
  2. “Sometimes breaking the rules is extending the rules.” — Mary Oliver      

    Mary Oliver Quotes About Life
    Mary Oliver Quotes About Life
  3. “I don’t want to end up simply having visited this world.” — Mary Oliver      

    Best Mary Oliver Quotes
    Best Mary Oliver Quotes
  4. “You can fool a lot of yourself but you can’t fool the soul.” — Mary Oliver
  5. “Sometimes I need only to stand wherever I am to be blessed.” — Mary Oliver   

    Mary Oliver Quotations
    Mary Oliver Quotations
  6. “If you suddenly and unexpectedly feel joy, don’t hesitate. Give in to it.” — Mary Oliver     

    Quotes By Mary Oliver
    Quotes By Mary Oliver
  7. “Said the river: imagine everything you can imagine, then keep on going.” — Mary Oliver  

    Mary Oliver Quotes About Nature
    Mary Oliver Quotes About Nature
  8. “It is a serious thing just to be alive on this fresh morning in this broken world.” — Mary Oliver                       

    Mary Oliver Gratitude Quotes
    Mary Oliver Gratitude Quotes
  9. “Maybe the desire to make something beautiful is the piece of God that is inside each of us.” — Mary Oliver     

    Mary Oliver Quotes About Beauty
    Mary Oliver Quotes About Beauty
  10. “What misery to be afraid of death. What wretchedness, to believe only in what can be proven.” — Mary Oliver, I Looked Up                                                                                                                                                      

    Mary Oliver Poems
    Mary Oliver Poems

Mary Oliver Quotes On Love

  1. “Breathe it all in, love it all out.” — Mary Oliver
  2. “He is exactly the poem I wanted to write.” — Mary Oliver
  3. “It is better for the heart to break, than not to break.” — Mary Oliver
  4. “Keep some room in your heart for the unimaginable.” — Mary Oliver
  5. “You only have to let the soft animal of your body love what it loves.” — Mary Oliver
  6. “I grew up in a confused house: too much unwanted attention or none at all.” — Mary Oliver
  7. “I very much wished not to be noticed, and to be left alone, and I sort of succeeded.” — Mary Oliver
  8. “Tell me about despair, yours, and I will tell you mine. Meanwhile the world goes on.” — Mary Oliver
  9. “Also I wanted to be able to love. And we all know how that one goes, don’t we? Slowly.” — Mary Oliver
  10. “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

Best Quotes Of Mary Oliver

  1. “I simply do not distinguish between work and play.” — Mary Oliver
  2. “To pay attention, this is our endless and proper work.” — Mary Oliver
  3. “For me the door to the woods is the door to the temple.” — Mary Oliver
  4. “I believe art is utterly important. It is one of the things that could save us.” — Mary Oliver
  5. “I held my breath as we do sometimes to stop time when something wonderful has touched us…” — Mary Oliver
  6. “You must not ever stop being whimsical. And you must not, ever, give anyone else the responsibility for your life.” — Mary Oliver
  7. “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
  8. “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
  9. “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
  10. “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

Mary Oliver Quotes On Life

  1. “Listen – are you breathing just a little, and calling it a life?” — Mary Oliver
  2. “Tell me, what is it you plan to do with your one wild and precious life?” — Mary Oliver
  3. “So this is how you swim inward. So this is how you flow outwards. So this is how you pray.” — Mary Oliver
  4. “I acknowledge my feeling and gratitude for life by praising the world and whoever made all these things.” — Mary Oliver
  5. “I believe in kindness. Also in mischief. Also in singing, especially when singing is not necessarily prescribed.” — Mary Oliver
  6. “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
  7. “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
  8. “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
  9. “I want to believe that the imperfections are nothing — that the light is everything — that it is more than the sum of each flawed blossom rising and falling. And I do.” — Mary Oliver
  10. “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

Famous Mary Oliver Quotes

  1. “There are so many stories, more beautiful than answers.” — Mary Oliver, Snake
  2. “It is the nature of stone to be satisfied. It is the nature of water to want to be somewhere else. ” — Mary Oliver
  3. “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
  4. “And now you’ll be telling stories of my coming back – and they won’t be false, and they won’t be true- but they’ll be real.” — Mary Oliver
  5. “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
  6. “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.” — Mary Oliver
  7. “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
  8. “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
  9. “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
  10. “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

Inspirational Mary Oliver Quotes

  1. “I always feel that whatever isn’t necessary shouldn’t be in a poem.” — Mary Oliver
  2. “Instructions for living a life. Pay attention. Be astonished. Tell about it.” — Mary Oliver
  3. “I would rather write poems than prose, any day, any place. Yet each has its own force.” — Mary Oliver
  4. “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
  5. “I saw that worrying had come to nothing. And I gave it up. And took my old body and went out into the morning and sang.” — Mary Oliver
  6. “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, When Death Comes
  7. “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
  8. “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
  9. “I want to think again of dangerous and noble things. I want to be light and frolicsome. I want to be improbable and beautiful and afraid of nothing as though I had wings.” — Mary Oliver
  10. “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.” — Mary Oliver


What are your favorite Mary Oliver quotes and sayings listed above? If there is a quote that we’ve missed then let us know in the comments section what your thoughts are.

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