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15 Beautiful Lines Written By Mary Oliver

The Pulitzer Prize–winning poet died today at age 83.

Posted on January 17, 2019, at 2:21 p.m. ET

Kevork Djansezian / Getty Images

Pulitzer Prize–winning poet Mary Oliver has died at age 83. In her more than 30 poetry and essay collections, Oliver wrote about nature, God, and the soul. Below are some of our favorite passages.


"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."
(From "When Death Comes")

"I have refused to live
locked in the orderly house of
reasons and proofs."
(From "The World I Live In")

"Doesn't the wind, turning in circles, invent the dance?"
(From "Where Does the Dance Begin, Where Does It End?")

Photo by Glenn Carstens-Peters on Unsplash

"[H]ow wonderful to be who I am,
made out of earth and water,
my own thoughts, my own fingerprints —
all that glorious, temporary stuff."
(From "On Meditating, Sort Of")

"Why do I have so many thoughts, they are driving me
crazy.
Why am I always going anywhere, instead of
somewhere?"
(From "I Don't Want to Be Demure or Respectable")

"Oh, mother earth,
your comfort is great, your arms never withhold."
(From "Loneliness")

Photo by Jörg on Unsplash

"Someone I loved once gave me a box full of darkness.
It took me years to understand that this too, was a gift."
(From "The Uses of Sorrow")

"Maybe the desire to make something beautiful
is the piece of God that is inside each of us."
(From "Franz Marc's Blue Horses")

"Keep some room in your heart for the unimaginable."
(From "Evidence")

Photo by Adnanta Raharja on Unsplash

"Though I play at the edges of knowing,
truly I know
our part is not knowing,
but looking, and touching, and loving,
which is the way I walked on,
softly,
through the pale-pink morning light."
(From "Bone")

"You want to cry aloud for your
mistakes. But to tell the truth the world
doesn’t need anymore of that sound."
(From "The Poet With His Face in His Hands")

"Listen, are you breathing just a little, and calling it a life?"
(From "Have You Ever Tried to Enter the Long Black Branches?")

Photo by Paula May on Unsplash

"Rumi said, There is no proof of the soul.
But isn't the return of spring and how it
springs up in our hearts a pretty good hint?"
(From "Whistling Swans")

"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."
(From "Wild Geese")

"Tell me, what is it you plan to do
with your one wild and precious life?"
(From "The Summer Day")

Photo by Stephen Crowley on Unsplash


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