10 Best Mary Oliver Poems

Best Mary Oliver Poems

Mary Oliver is well-known among the American’s best-selling poets of age due to her lyrical, sensitive, and intimate poems, which are considered a mirror to reflect human’s most profound emotion out of joyful and joy to despair and sorrow.

Her poem’s best aspect is that they encourage readers not to take anything for granted and reminds us to breathe and sense the encompassing atmosphere (take a break for slower residing). If you would like to experience that grateful emotion, then allow Penn Book to give you a hand for nearer to the best Mary Oliver Poems below.

Mary Oliver

Mary Oliver is a famed American poet and non-fiction writer. They won the Pulitzer Prize and National Book Award for her job American Primitive and House of Light, respectively. According to the New York Times, she’s far and away, the country’s best selling poet.

Her job is primarily predicated on nature and attractiveness while attempting to portray the admiration for these surroundings’ charms that generates joy and introspection for one of the subscribers.

Her composing subject is led towards the easy things in life that may create a euphoria that people typically discount to love in pursuit of more oversized materialistic objects. Through her voice, she’s described the authentic scenic scenes that glorify the beauty of Mother Earth.

We’ve curated several of Mary Oliver’s quotations and expressions from her novels, poems, and lifestyle on novels, kids, Earth, fame, paradise, love, happiness, inspiration, morning, nature, poetry, rain, spirit, spring, and summer, educators, world, etc.

Zoom through those inspirational quotations from many of the most important poets in our creation and possibly get a few admirations with this particular gift of the god known as character.

Mary Oliver

10 Best Mary Oliver Works

1. “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 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.

Why we love this poem: If you have ever believed the world was falling to you, this poem acts as a relaxing reminder to associate with yourself, with character, and others about you. Oliver’s picture of geese in flight is intended to lift the reader and carry them from any grief and isolation they may be feeling.

2. “The Swan”

Did you too see it, drifting, all night, on the black river?

Did you see it in the morning, rising into the silvery air –

An armful of white blossoms,

A perfect commotion of silk and linen as it leaned

into the bondage of its wings; a snowbank, a bank of lilies,

Biting the air with its black beak?

Did you hear it, fluting and whistling

A shrill dark music – like the rain pelting the trees – like a waterfall

Knifing down the black ledges?

And did you see it, finally, just under the clouds –

A white cross Streaming across the sky, its feet

Like black leaves, its wings Like the stretching light of the river?

And did you feel it, in your heart, how it pertained to everything?

And have you too finally figured out what beauty is for?

And have you changed your life?

Why we love this poem: The swan in this poem is a type of shapeshifter. It could be soft and lovely like lace or flower petals or unpleasant and relentless like a waterfall. The poem reminds us that change is a natural part of life, and the last point is a challenge to the reader: What form are you going to choose?

3. “Don’t Hesitate”

If you suddenly and unexpectedly feel joy,

don’t hesitate. Give in to it. There are plenty

of lives and whole towns destroyed or about

to be. We are not wise, and not very often

kind. And much can never be redeemed.

Still, life has some possibility left. Perhaps this

is its way of fighting back, that sometimes

something happens better than all the riches

or power in the world. It could be anything,

but very likely you notice it in the instant

when love begins. Anyway, that’s often the

case. Anyway, whatever it is, don’t be afraid

of its plenty. Joy is not made to be a crumb.

Why we love this poem: Sometimes, it can be not easy to bask in an instant of happiness, particularly when you’re convinced that the atmosphere will not last. The poem admits this and urges the reader to capture every minute of pleasure and possibility and enjoy it regardless of how small!

4. “Dogfish”


You don’t want to hear the story

of my life, and anyway

I don’t want to tell it, I want to listen

to the enormous waterfalls of the sun.

And anyway it’s the same old story

a few people just trying,

one way or another,

to survive.

Mostly, I want to be kind.

And nobody, of course, is kind,

or mean,

for a simple reason.

And nobody gets out of it, having to

swim through the fires to stay in

this world.

Why we love this poem: This suggestion is about the other hand, so we’ve just included a snippet, but we invite you to see it in its entirety! Oliver brilliantly weaves the dogfish picture into a poem about living the past and the harsh realities of the planet.

Take a look at our Top 59 Best Poetry Books Of All Time: Top Pick Of 2022 to learn more about the greatest poetry publications all around the world.

5. “When Death Comes”

When death comes

like the hungry bear in autumn;

when death comes and takes all the bright coins from his purse

to buy me, and snaps the purse shut;

when death comes

like the measle-pox

when death comes

like an iceberg between the shoulder blades,

I want to step through the door full of curiosity, wondering:

what is it going to be like, that cottage of darkness?

And therefore I look upon everything

as a brotherhood and a sisterhood,

and I look upon time as no more than an idea,

and I consider eternity as another possibility,

and I think of each life as a flower, as common

as a field daisy, and as singular,

and each name a comfortable music in the mouth,

tending, as all music does, toward silence,

and each body a lion of courage, and something

precious to the earth.

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.

When it’s over, I don’t want to wonder

if I have made of my life something particular, and real.

I don’t want to find myself sighing and frightened,

or full of argument.

I don’t want to end up simply having visited this world.

Why we love this poem: This poem faces death head-on with beauty and elegance, fulfilling it not with dread but with fascination. This poem’s speaker is not paralyzed by a fear of passing but sees it as a phone to experience everything that life has to offer you. The point about being”a bride married to amazement” never fails to move me.

Starlings in Winter

6. “Starlings in Winter”

Chunky and noisy,

but with stars in their black feathers,

they spring from the telephone wire

and instantly

they are acrobats

in the freezing wind.

And now, in the theater of air,

they swing over buildings,

dipping and rising;

they float like one stippled star

that opens,

becomes for a moment fragmented,

then closes again;

and you watch

and you try

but you simply can’t imagine

how they do it

with no articulated instruction, no pause,

only the silent confirmation

that they are this notable thing,

this wheel of many parts, that can rise and spin

over and over again,

full of gorgeous life.

Ah, world, what lessons you prepare for us,

even in the leafless winter,

even in the ashy city.

I am thinking now

of grief, and of getting past it;

I feel my boots

trying to leave the ground,

I feel my heart

pumping hard. I want

to think again of dangerous and noble things.

I want to be light and frolicsome.

I want to be improbable beautiful and afraid of nothing,

as though I had wings.

Why we love this poem: Oliver frequently turned into nature to meditate on mortality and life. This poem reminds us that grief is a process, which one step in that process is expecting the conclusion of despair. The understanding that happiness is possible could be its type of relaxation.

Read more about 12 Best Nikki Giovanni Poems To Read Of All Time to know more about this most renowned living antique works.

7. “The Summer Day”

Who made the world?

Who made the swan, and the black bear?

Who made the grasshopper?

This grasshopper, I mean—

the one who has flung herself out of the grass,

the one who is eating sugar out of my hand,

who is moving her jaws back and forth instead of up and down-

who is gazing around with her enormous and complicated eyes.

Now she lifts her pale forearms and thoroughly washes her face.

Now she snaps her wings open, and floats away.

I don’t know exactly what a prayer is.

I do know how to pay attention, how to fall down

into the grass, how to kneel down in the grass,

how to be idle and blessed, how to stroll through the fields,

which is what I have been doing all day.

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?

Why we love this poem: This poem perfectly melds the religious and the organic, reminding the reader that life is valuable and worth living, even at its lowest and easiest moments.

8. “Praying”

It doesn’t have to be

the blue iris, it could be

weeds in a vacant lot, or a few

small stones; just

pay attention, then patch

a few words together and don’t try

to make them elaborate, this isn’t

a contest but the doorway

into thanks, and a silence in which

another voice may speak.

The reason why we love this poem:” In an interview with NPR, Oliver emphasized when it comes to poetry, simplicity would be most extraordinary: “Poetry, to be known, should be apparent… It should not be elaborate. I have the impression that a lot of poets are writing today, kind of tap dancing through it. I feel that anything that is not necessary shouldn’t be from the poem” We believe this poem is an ideal illustration of precisely what she intended.

9. “The Uses of Sorrow”

(In my sleep I dreamed this poem)

Someone I loved once gave me

a box full of darkness.

It took me years to understand

that this, too, was a gift.

Why we love this poem: When it comes to feelings such as grief and despair, it may frequently be tough to get the appropriate words to say how you are feeling. This poem admits the constraints of speech, but it is also proof of its power. I am constantly in awe of brief poems which are able to comprise so much.

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10. “Invitation”

Oh do you have time

to linger

for just a little while

out of your busy

and very important day

for the goldfinches

that have gathered

in a field of thistles

for a musical battle,

to see who can sing

the highest note,

or the lowest,

or the most expressive of mirth,

or the most tender?

Their strong, blunt beaks

drink the air

as they strive


not for your sake

and not for mine

and not for the sake of winning

but for sheer delight and gratitude

believe us, they say,

it is a serious thing

just to be alive

on this fresh morning

in the broken world.

I beg of you,

do not walk by

without pausing

to attend to this

rather ridiculous performance.

It could mean something.

It could mean everything.

It could be what Rilke meant, when he wrote:

You must change your life.

Why we love this poem: Particularly nowadays, it may feel like there’s an infinite supply of distractions. Oliver’s suggestion is a call to listen, particularly to the things you take for granted. If we pause for an instant, even for something as inconsequential as a couple of birds singing, we may discover unexpected joy.

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