Mary Oliver

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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 (born 10 September 1935) is an American poet who has won the National Book Award and the Pulitzer Prize.

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.

Quotes[edit]

You only have to let the soft animal of your body love what it loves.

American Primitive (1983)[edit]

  • 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.
    • "In Blackwater Woods"

Dream Work (1986)[edit]

  • 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.
    • "Wild Geese"
  • And now I understand something so frightening, and wonderful — how the mind clings to the road it knows, rushing through crossroads, sticking like lint to the familiar.
    • "Robert Schumann"

House of Light (1990)[edit]

  • 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.
    • "The Ponds"

New and Selected Poems (1992)[edit]

Tell me, what is it you plan to do with your one wild and precious life?
  • Tell me, what is it you plan to do with your one wild and precious life?
    • "The Summer Day"

Blue Pastures (1995)[edit]

West Wind (1997)[edit]

Listen. Are you breathing just a little and calling it a life?
Am I not among the early risers
and the long-distance walkers?
  • Listen. Are you breathing just a little and calling it a life?
    • Have You Ever Tried to Enter the Long Black Branches?
  • Am I not among the early risers
    and the long-distance walkers?

    Have I not stood, amazed, as I consider
    the perfection of the morning star
    above the peaks of the houses, and the crowns of the trees
    blue in the first light?
    Do I not see how the trees tremble, as though
    sheets of water flowed over them
    though it is only wind, that common thing,
    free to everyone, and everything?

    • "Am I Not Among the Early Risers"
  • What countries, what visitations,
    what pomp
    would satisfy me as thoroughly as Blackwater Woods
    on a sun-filled morning, or, equally, in the rain?
    • "Am I Not Among the Early Risers"
  • Here is an amazement –– once I was twenty years old and in
    every motion of my body there was a delicious ease,
    and in every motion of the green earth there was
    a hint of paradise,
    and now I am sixty years old, and it is the same.
    • "Am I Not Among the Early Risers"

Winter Hours (1999)[edit]

You can have the other wordschance, luck, coincidence, serendipity. I'll take grace. I don't know what it is exactly, but I'll take it.
Winter Hours : Prose, Prose Poems, and Poems
  • What men build, in the name of security, is built of straw.
    • "Sand Dabs, Five"
  • I am a performing artist; I perform admiration.
    Come with me, I want my poems to say. And do the same.
    • "Sand Dabs, Five"
  • Every word is a messenger. Some have wings; some are filled with fire; some are filled with death.
    • "Sand Dabs, Six"

Blue Iris (2004)[edit]

Light is an invitation to happiness, and that happiness, when it’s done right, is a kind of holiness.
  • But also I say this: that light is an invitation to happiness, and that happiness, when it’s done right, is a kind of holiness.
    • "Poppies"

Why I Wake Early (2004)[edit]

  • 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.
    • "Mindful"

New and Selected Poems, Volume 2 (2005)[edit]

I don't want to end up simply having visited this world.
  • I don't want to end up simply having visited this world.
    • "When Death Comes"
  • You want to cry aloud for your mistakes. But to tell the truth the world doesn't need any more of that sound.
    • "The Poet With His Face in His Hands"

Thirst (2006)[edit]

  • My work is loving the world. Here the sunflowers, there the hummingbird — equal seekers of sweetness
    • "Messenger"

Red Bird (2008)[edit]

I don't know what God is.
I don't know what death is.

But I believe they have between them
some fervent and necessary arrangement.

Instructions for living a life: Pay attention. Be astonished. Tell about it.
I was surrounded by the beautiful crying forth of the ideas of God, one of which was you.
  • I don't know what God is.
    I don't know what death is.

    But I believe they have between them
    some fervent and necessary arrangement.

    • "Sometimes", § 1
  • Instructions for living a life:
    Pay attention.
    Be astonished.
    Tell about it.
    • "Sometimes", § 4
  • Two or three times in my life I discovered love.
    Each time it seemed to solve everything.

    Each time it solved a great many things
    but not everything.
    Yet left me as grateful as if it had indeed, and
    thoroughly, solved everything.
    • "Sometimes", § 5
  • Death waits for me, I know it, around
    one corner or another.
    This doesn't amuse me.
    Neither does it frighten me.

    After the rain, I went back into the field of sunflowers.
    It was cool, and I was anything but drowsy.
    I walked slowly, and listened

    to the crazy roots, in the drenched earth, laughing and growing.

    • "Sometimes", § 7
  • So every day
    I was surrounded by the beautiful crying forth
    of the ideas of God,

    one of which was you.

    • "So every day"
  • then you too are a dream

    which last night and the night before that
    and the years before that
    you were not.

    • "If the philosopher is right"

Evidence (2009)[edit]

Among the swans there is none called the least,
 or the greatest.
  • Among the swans there is none called the least,
     or the greatest.
    • "Evidence"
  • I believe in kindness. Also in mischief. Also in singing, especially when singing is not necessarily prescribed.
    • "Evidence"
  • Keep some room in your heart for the unimaginable.
    • "Evidence"

External links[edit]

Wikipedia
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