Mary Oliver Poems

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A Dream Of Trees

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.

A Visitor

My father, for example,
who was young once
and blue-eyed,

Wild Geese

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

The Journey

One day you finally knew
what you had to do, and began,
though the voices around you
kept shouting

When Death Comes

When death comes
like the hungry bear in autumn;
when death comes and takes all the bright coins from his purse

Whispering to each handhold, "I'll be back,"
I go up the cliff in the dark. One place
I loosen a rock and listen a long time
till it hits, faint in the gulf, but the rush


Every day
I see or hear
that more or less


When the blackberries hang
swollen in the woods, in the brambles
nobody owns, I spend

A Meeting

She steps into the dark swamp
where the long wait ends.

The secret slippery package

At Blackwater Pond

At Blackwater Pond the tossed waters have settled
after a night of rain.
I dip my cupped hands. I drink
a long time. It tastes

Mary Oliver Poems | What is Mary Oliver's Most Famous Poem?

We have compiled the poems of Mary Oliver, one of the names that come to mind when poetry is mentioned, and Mary Oliver quotes for you. We hope that this collection of some of the aesthetical Mary Oliver poems will impact you and perhaps even give you the inspiration to pen your own poetry. The New Yorker dubbed her "one of the most admired poets of her generation." Oliver sadly passed away in January 2019, but her writings offer a moving reminder to be present in every moment, whether it's a happy celebration or a solemn, reflective one.

Due to Mary Oliver’s lyrical, private, and sensitive poems, many of which utilize nature as a lens to explore the range of human emotions, from love and joy to grief and despair, Mary Oliver has become a favorite among poetry lovers of all ages. The finest Mary Oliver poems advise us to stop and take a breath, to savor the moment, and to never take anything for granted.

According to Maxine Kumin in the Women's Review of Books, Mary Oliver was a "indefatigable guide to the natural world, particularly to its lesser-known elements." Oliver's poetry emphasized the stillness of nature, including hardworking hummingbirds, egrets, still ponds, and "lean owls / hunkering with their lamp-eyes." Oliver, according to Kumin, "stands very easily on the edges of things, on the line between earth and sky, the thin membrane separating human from what we hazard to term animal." The Pulitzer Prize, the National Book Award, and the Lannan Literary Award for lifetime accomplishment were only a few of the accolades Oliver's poetry received. Oliver was described as "visionary as [Ralph Waldo] Emerson" by critic Alicia Ostriker in her review of Oliver's Dream Work (1986) for the Nation.

What is Mary Oliver’s most famous poem?

The epigraph of Cheryl Strayed's well-known memoir "Wild" is taken from the final couplet of "The Summer Day," arguably Oliver's most well-known poem: Tell me, what is it you plan to do with your one wild and precious life? Oliver's poem "Wild Geese," which gives a solace-inspiring image of the redemption achievable in everyday life, was called to by Krista Tippett as "a poem that has saved lives" in an interview she had with Oliver for her radio program, "On Being."

Mary Oliver’s Quotes

What will you do with your one wild and precious life?
Someone I loved once gave me a box full of darkness. It took me years to understand that this too, was a gift.
Instructions for living a life.
Pay attention
Be astonished.
Tell about it.
You must not ever stop being whimsical. And you must not, ever, give anyone else the responsibility for your life.”
I believe in kindness. Also in mischief. Also in singing, especially when singing is not necessarily prescribed.
Keep some room in your heart for the unimaginable.
Love yourself. Then forget it.
Then, love the world.
It is a serious thing // just to be alive / on this fresh morning / in this broken world.

Is poet Mary Oliver still alive?

1984 Poetry winner Mary Oliver died Thursday at her home in Hope Sound, Fla. She was 83. According to Bill Reichblum, her literary executor, the cause of death was lymphoma.

When did Mary Oliver write the summer day?

“The Summer Day” is a short poem by the American poet Mary Oliver, first published in her collection House of Light (1990). Its speaker wonders about the creation of the world and then has a close, marvelous encounter with a grasshopper.

What is Mary Oliver best known for?

Mary Jane Oliver (September 10, 1935 – January 17, 2019) was an American poet who won the National Book Award and the Pulitzer Prize. Her work is inspired by nature, rather than the human world, stemming from her lifelong passion for solitary walks in the wild.

What type of poet is Mary Oliver?

Oliver is an ecstatic poet in the vein of her idols, who include Shelley, Keats, and Whitman. She tends to use nature as a springboard to the sacred, which is the beating heart of her work. Indeed, a number of the poems in this collection are explicitly formed as prayers, albeit unconventional ones.

Whose poetry does Mary Oliver read every day?

In an interview by Amy Sutherland, Mary Oliver said: I read Rumi, the 13th-century Persian poet, every day.

"Good-Bye to All That” by Robert Graves, which I like very much. I had forgotten about the desolation of World War I. I’m also reading “India” by Diane Eck, who teaches at Harvard University. It’s about the sacred places that still exist in India. I went to India and was quite taken with it. There’s a feeling there that things are holy first and useful second. And in this country, we have it backwards. I’m a little crabby this morning.

What is the poem The Journey by Mary Oliver?

'The Journey' is a poem that focuses on the need to leave behind what is bad and wrong and harmful and start out on a new path. It has become a popular poem for those seeking guidance and strength in their lives.

'Tell me, what is it you plan to do

with your one wild and precious life?

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