Mary Oliver

in Maple Heights, OH, The United States
September 10, 1935



Librarian Note: There is more than one author in the Goodreads database with this name. See this thread for more information.

“In a region that has produced most of the nation's poet laureates, it is risky to single out one fragile 71-year-old bard of Provincetown. But Mary Oliver, who won the Pulitzer Prize in poetry in 1983, is my choice for her joyous, accessible, intimate observations of the natural world. Her Wild Geese has become so popular it now graces posters in dorm rooms across the land. But don't hold that against her. Read almost anything in New and Selected Poems. She teaches us the profound act of paying attention—a living wonder that makes it possible to appreciate all the others.”
—Renée Loth, Boston Globe, September 2, 2007

Average rating: 4.3 · 73,778 ratings · 7,000 reviews · 61 distinct worksSimilar authors
New and Selected Poems, Vol...

4.52 avg rating — 9,001 ratings — published 1992 — 7 editions
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A Thousand Mornings

4.19 avg rating — 8,751 ratings — published 2012 — 8 editions
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Dog Songs

4.13 avg rating — 4,570 ratings — published 2013 — 8 editions
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Why I Wake Early

4.40 avg rating — 4,072 ratings — published 2004 — 6 editions
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A Poetry Handbook

4.12 avg rating — 4,061 ratings — published 1994 — 2 editions
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Upstream: Selected Essays

4.22 avg rating — 4,197 ratings — published 2016 — 4 editions
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American Primitive

4.37 avg rating — 3,377 ratings — published 1983 — 2 editions
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4.36 avg rating — 3,469 ratings — published 2006 — 8 editions
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4.28 avg rating — 3,309 ratings — published 2015 — 7 editions
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New and Selected Poems, Vol. 2

4.58 avg rating — 2,388 ratings — published 1992 — 7 editions
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“Tell me, what is it you plan to do
with your one wild and precious life?”
Mary Oliver

“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.”
Mary Oliver

“Someone I loved once gave me a box full of darkness. It took me years to understand that this too, was a gift.”
Mary Oliver


Choose our seasonal poet for autumn 2014

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  17 votes, 31.5%

  11 votes, 20.4%


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