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Mary Oliver's Quotes

Mary Oliver profile photo

Born: 1935-09-10
Profession: Poet
Nation: American
Biography of Mary Oliver

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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.

Tags: Life, Love, Time

Tell me, what is it you plan to do with your one wild and precious life?

Tags: Life, Plan, Tell

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.

Tags: Amazing, Life, Married

I simply do not distinguish between work and play.

Tags: Between, Simply, Work

I have a notion that if you are going to be spiritually curious, you better not get cluttered up with too many material things.

Tags: Cluttered, Curious, Material

To pay attention, this is our endless and proper work.

Tags: Attention, Pay, Work

I was very careful never to take an interesting job. If you have an interesting job, you get interested in it.

Tags: Careful, Interested, Job

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. I spent a great deal of time in my younger years just writing and reading, walking around the woods in Ohio, where I grew up.

Tags: Great, Happiness, Time

Writers sometimes give up what is most strange and wonderful about their writing - soften their roughest edges - to accommodate themselves toward a group response.

Tags: Give, Strange, Writing

In college, you learn how to learn. Four years is not too much time to spend at that.

Tags: College, Learn, Time

So this is how you swim inward. So this is how you flow outwards. So this is how you pray.

Tags: Flow, Pray, Swim

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.

Tags: Life, Poetry, Put

It's very important to write things down instantly, or you can lose the way you were thinking out a line. I have a rule that if I wake up at 3 in the morning and think of something, I write it down. I can't wait until morning - it'll be gone.

Tags: Morning, Thinking, Wait

I very much wished not to be noticed, and to be left alone, and I sort of succeeded.

Tags: Alone, Left, Noticed

I worked probably 25 years by myself, just writing and working, not trying to publish much, not giving readings.

Tags: Giving, Trying, Writing

If I've done my work well, I vanish completely from the scene. I believe it is invasive of the work when you know too much about the writer.

Tags: Done, Work, Writer

My first two books are out of print and, okay, they can sleep there comfortably. It's early work, derivative work.

Tags: Books, Sleep, Work

I consider myself kind of a reporter - one who uses words that are more like music and that have a choreography. I never think of myself as a poet; I just get up and write.

Tags: Music, Words, Write

I love the line of Flaubert about observing things very intensely. I think our duty as writers begins not with our own feelings, but with the powers of observing.

Tags: Feelings, Line, Love

Almost anything is too much. I am trying in my poems to have the reader be the experiencer. I do not want to be there. It is not even a walk we take together.

Tags: Almost, Together, Trying

As a child, what captivated me was reading the poems myself and realizing that there was a world without material substance which was nevertheless as alive as any other.

Tags: Alive, Child, Reading

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.

Tags: Time, Words, Write
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