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".
Mary Oliver was born to Edward William and Helen M. V. Oliver on September 10, 1935, in Maple Heights, Ohio, a semi-rural suburb of Cleveland. Her father was a social studies teacher and an athletics coach in the Cleveland public schools. She began writing poetry at the age of 14, and at 17 visited the home of the late Pulitzer Prize-winning poet Edna St. Vincent Millay, in Austerlitz, upper New York state. She and Norma, the poet's sister, became friends, and Oliver "more or less lived there for the next six or seven years, running around the 800 acres like a child, helping Norma, or at least being company to her," and assisting with organizing the late poet's papers.
There is a thing in me that dreamed of trees,
A quiet house, some green and modest acres
A little way from every troubling town,
A little way from factories, schools, laments.
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
One day you finally knew
what you had to do, and began,
though the voices around you