27 Mary Oliver Quotes To Inspire A Bold Life

mary oliver quotes

Mary Oliver is a Pulitzer Prize winner and America’s best-selling poet. Her poems take your breath away and dare you to live a bold life. Enjoy!

“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

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

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

“Said the river: imagine everything you can imagine, then keep on going.” ~ 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

“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

“Still, what I want in my life is to be willing to be dazzled—to cast aside the weight of facts and maybe even to float a little above this difficult world.” ~ Mary Oliver

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

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

“And now I understand something so frightening & wonderful-how the mind clings to the road it knows, rushing through crossroads, sticking like lint to the familiar.” ~ 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

“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

“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

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

“I believe in kindness. Also in mischief.” ~ 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

“So come to the pond, or the river of your imagination, or the harbor of your longing, and put your lips to the world. And live your 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

“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 held my breath as we do sometimes to stop time when something wonderful has touched us…” ~ Mary Oliver

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

“And that is just the point… how the world, moist and beautiful, calls to each of us to make a new and serious response. That’s the big question, the one the world throws at you every morning. “Here you are, alive. Would you like to make a comment?” ~ Mary Oliver

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

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

“As long as you’re dancing, you can break the rules. Sometimes breaking the rules is just extending the rules. Sometimes there are no rules.” ~ Mary Oliver

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Comments on this entry are closed.

  • Sandra Pawula May 28, 2014, 12:01 am

    These are priceless! Each one is a gem. Thank you, dear Tess.

    • Tess May 28, 2014, 5:47 am

      Hi Sandra,

      I hear you! I want to go purchase her books and eat every word. I wanted to post a photo of her but couldn’t find a public domain one. Thanks!

  • Peggy May 28, 2014, 4:11 am

    These are stunning quotes, Tess. Absolutely stunning. This one especially speaks to me and my own “cracking open” of my heart, ““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.” LOVE, LOVE, LOVE!

  • Tess May 28, 2014, 5:48 am

    I totally agree. Breaking open!

  • Cathy Taughinbaugh May 28, 2014, 7:37 am

    Love these poems, Tess! The first one, “Listen, Are you breathing just a little and calling it a life?” jumped out at me. That’s something to remember! Thank you for the inspiration to live in an unforgettable way!

  • Tess May 28, 2014, 8:52 am


    Thanks so much for your support and friendship! I’m happy to inspire you.

  • Betsy/Zen Mama May 29, 2014, 8:12 pm

    I love these quotes. I can’t believe I’ve never heard of Mary Oliver. I juste love the first one:
    “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.”

    Thanks for sharing!!

    • Tess May 30, 2014, 7:47 am

      I can’t believe you haven’t either. You’re the quote queen. That’s the thing about life we just keep getting these little surprises that create so much joy. Like Mary Oliver qutoes! x

  • Joy May 30, 2014, 8:49 am

    I love Mary Oliver! Her words have inspired me for many years. I used to challenge myself to read one of her quotes then to live the meaning – *very* heart-opening, live-enlivening stuff. Reading many of her quotes together, as you have shared here, is quite powerful. I find myself smiling at memories of living boldly and also the idea of creating new, heart-wide-open memories. Thank you for the heart-smile and inspiration!

    • Tess May 30, 2014, 10:27 am

      You’re Mary Oliver’s distant relative! Check out her photos online. She’s beautiful!

  • Melissa May 30, 2014, 8:55 am

    Where do you find these awesome quotes girl! I always love coming here and reading what you have to say. So uplifting! Thanks so much 🙂

  • Sebastian Aiden Daniels May 31, 2014, 4:34 pm

    Hey Tess,

    These were fantastic quotes. Mary Oliver is amazing. I have been deeply moved during multiple times of my life after reading “The Journey” by Mary Oliver. I hope that this post reaches a lot of people because she does have many worthwhile things to say.

  • Little Owl May 31, 2014, 10:09 pm

    These are such beautiful words, reading them has been one of my favourite moments today. Thankyou.

  • lynne June 2, 2014, 9:06 pm

    Hi, these are all awesome quotes and very enlightening. Thanks for sharing.

  • Elle June 3, 2014, 6:02 am

    A treasure trove Tess. I think I’ve got some more reading to do. 🙂

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