#1 American Primitive (In Blackwater Woods), 1983
1. 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.
(The Uses of Sorrow)
2. Someone I loved once gave me a box full of darkness. It took me years to understand that this too, was a gift.
3. It is better for the heart to break, than not to break.
#4 To Begin With, the Sweet Grass
4. Love yourself. Then forget it. Then, love the world.
5. Also I wanted to be able to love and we all know how that one goes, don’t we? Slowly.
#6 Red Bird
(Sometimes § 5), 2008
6. 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.
Excerpt from Wikipedia: Mary Oliver (born September 10, 1935) is an American poet who has won the National Book Award and the Pulitzer Prize. The New York Times described her as “far and away, [America’s] best-selling poet”.
Sayings by Mary Oliver
#1 New and Selected Poems, Volume One
(The Summer Day), 1992
1. Tell me, what is it you plan to do with your one wild and precious life?
#2 Red Bird
(Sometimes § 4), 2008
2. Instructions for living a life: Pay attention. Be astonished. Tell about it.
#3 Why I Wake Early
3. 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.
#4 Wild Geese, 2004
4. You must not ever stop being whimsical. And you must not, ever, give anyone else the responsibility for your life.
#5 It was Early
5. Sometimes I need only to stand wherever I am to be blessed.
#6 New and Selected Poems, Volume 2
(When Death Comes), 2005
6. I don’t want to end up simply having visited this world.
7. 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.
8. I held my breath as we do sometimes to stop time when something wonderful has touched us.
#9 House of Light
(The Ponds), 1990
9. 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.
#10 Blue Pastures
(Of Power and Time), 1995
10. 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.
#11 West Wind: Poems and Prose Poems
(Am I Not Among the Early Risers), 1997
11. 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.
#12 Blue Iris
12. 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.
13. Keep some room in your heart for the unimaginable.
Poem by Mary Oliver
The Journey, Dream Work, 1986
One day you finally knew
what you had to do, and began,
though the voices around you
their bad advice —
though the whole house
began to tremble
and you felt the old tug
at your ankles.
“Mend my life!”
each voice cried.
But you didn’t stop.
You knew what you had to do,
though the wind pried
with its stiff fingers
at the very foundations,
though their melancholy
It was already late
enough, and a wild night,
and the road full of fallen
branches and stones.
But little by little,
as you left their voices behind,
the stars began to burn
through the sheets of clouds,
and there was a new voice
which you slowly
recognized as your own,
that kept you company
as you strode deeper and deeper
into the world,
determined to do
the only thing you could do —
determined to save
the only life you could save.
How necessary it is to have opinions! I think the spotted trout
lilies are satisfied, standing a few inches above the earth. I
think serenity is not something you just find in the world,
like a plum tree, holding up its white petals.
The violets, along the river, are opening their blue faces, like
small dark lanterns.
The green mosses, being so many, are as good as brawny.
How important it is to walk along, not in haste but slowly,
looking at everything and calling out
Yes! No! The swan, for all his pomp, his robes of grass and petals, wants
only to be allowed to live on the nameless pond. The catbrier
is without fault. The water thrushes, down among the sloppy
rocks, are going crazy with happiness. Imagination is better
than a sharp instrument. To pay attention, this is our endless
and proper work.