Mary Oliver Quotes (displaying: 1 - 30 of 142 quotes)
At Blackwater Pond"Look, the treesare turningtheir own bodiesinto pillarsof light, are giving off the richfragrance of cinnamonand fulfillment, the long tapersof cattailsare bursting and floating away overthe blue shouldersof the ponds, and every pond, no matter what itsname is, isnameless now. Every yeareverything. I have ever learnedin my lifetimeleads back to this: the firesand the black river of losswhose other sideis salvation, whose meaningnone of us will ever know. To live in this worldyou must be ableto do three things: to love what is mortal; to hold itagainst your bones knowingyour own life depends on it; and, when the time comes to let it go, to let it go.
In your handsThe dog, the donkey, surely they know They are alive.Who would argue otherwise?But now, after years of consideration, I am getting beyond that.What about the sunflowers? What about The tulips, and the pines?Listen, all you have to do is start and Ther?ll be no stopping.What about mountains? What about water Slipping over rocks?And speaking of stones, what about The little ones you can Hold in your hands, their heartbeats So secret, so hidden it may take yearsBefore, finally, you hear them?
The poet dreams of the classroomI dreamedI stood up in classAnd I said aloud:Teacher, Why is algebra important?Sit down, he said.Then I dreamedI stood upAnd I said:Teacher, ?m weary of the turkeysThat we have to draw every fall.May I draw a fox instead?Sit down, he said.Then I dreamedI stood up once more and said:Teacher, My heart is falling asleepAnd it wants to wake up. It needs to be outside.Sit down, he said.
A dog comes to you and lives with you in your own house, but you do not therefore own her, as you do not own the rain, or the trees, or the laws which pertain to them ...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. . .
The salamanders, like tiny birds, locked into formation, fly down into the endless mysteries of the transforming water, and how could anyone believe that anything in this world is only what it appears to be— that anything is ever final— that anything, in spite of its absence, ever dies a perfect death? (from the poem 'What Is It?')
GOING TO WALDENIt isn't very far as highways lie. I might be back by nightfall, having seen. The rough pines, and the stones, and the clear water. Friends argue that I might be wiser for it. They do not hear that far-off Yankee whisper: How dull we grow from hurrying here and there! Many have gone, and think me half a fool. To miss a day away in the cool country. Maybe. But in a book I read and cherish, Going to Walden is not so easy a thing. As a green visit. It is the slow and difficult. Trick of living, and finding it where you are.
The woods that I loved as a child are entirely gone. The woods that I loved as a young adult are gone. The woods that most recently I walked in are not gone, but they’re full of bicycle trails. And this is happening to the world, and I think it is very very dangerous for our future generations, those of us who believe that the world is not only necessary to us in its pristine state, but it is in itself an act of some kind of spiritual thing. I said once, and I think this is true, the world did not have to be beautiful to work. But it is. What does that mean? [from 'A Thousand Mornings' With Poet Mary Oliver for NPR Books]
How I go to the woods Ordinarily, I go to the woods alone, with not a single friend, for they are all smilers and talkers and therefore unsuitable. I don’t really want to be witnessed talking to the catbirds or hugging the old black oak tree. I have my way of praying, as you no doubt have yours. Besides, when I am alone I can become invisible. I can sit on the top of a dune as motionless as an uprise of weeds, until the foxes run by unconcerned. I can hear the almost unhearable sound of the roses singing. If you have ever gone to the woods with me, I must love you very much.
If you suddenly and unexpectedly feel joy, don’t hesitate. Give in to it. There are plenty of lives and whole towns destroyed or about to be. We are not wise, and not very often kind. And much can never be redeemed. Still life has some possibility left. Perhaps this is its way of fighting back, that sometimes something happened better than all the riches or power in the world. It could be anything, but very likely you notice it in the instant when love begins. Anyway, that’s often the case. Anyway, whatever it is, don’t be afraid of its plenty. Joy is not made to be a crumb. (Don't Hesitate)