Monday Quote: Mary Oliver

A tray of wooden letters for a printing press – found secondhand in town.

Poet and writer Mary Oliver died last week, and there has been an outpouring of sadness on Twitter and Facebook over the loss of her full, long life. I have long enjoyed her poetry and essays, so thought I would share them today to eulogize this humble and amazing nature poet

My favourite poem of hers is – as it is for many others – “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
love what it loves.
Tell me about your despair, yours, and I will tell you mine.
Meanwhile the world goes on.
Meanwhile the sun and the clear pebbles of the rain
are moving across the landscapes,
over the prairies and the deep trees,
the mountains and the rivers.
Meanwhile the wild geese, high in the clean blue air,
are heading home again.
Whoever you are, no matter how lonely,
the world offers itself to your imagination,
calls to you like the wild geese, harsh and exciting —
over and over announcing your place
in the family of things.

Two more quotes stick in my mind:

“I want

to think again of dangerous and noble things.

I want to be light and frolicsome.

I want to be improbably beautiful and afraid of nothing

as though I had wings.”

Mary Oliver, Starlings in Winter

And one last one before I go:


Tell me, what else should I have done?

Doesn’t everything die at last, and too soon?

Tell me, what is it you plan to do

with your one wild and precious life?

Mary Oliver, The Summer Day

RIP Ms. Oliver.

8 thoughts on “Monday Quote: Mary Oliver”

  1. I really love her poetry; it speaks to me in a wonderful way. I am quite relieved that none of the posts I have seen have mentioned her female partner or said ugly things about that. She was a beautiful person and she saw things in such an authentic way. We should all aspire to see the world as she did.

    Reply
    • I hadn’t even thought that people might denigrate her for having a female partner. To me she was all about the poetry, and about her past, which she hinted was unpleasant, but she never mined it for writing ideas. She always thought it was private. I respected that.

      Reply
      • Me too. Another part of me wants people to see that LGBTQ individuals have much to offer and shouldn’t be marginalized. As a mom of 3 kids on the LGBTQ spectrum, I think of these things.

        Reply

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