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Poetry Art: Quotes from Mary Oliver #WorldPoetryDay

Yesterday, 21 March, was World Poetry day and I couldn’t but help share with you quotes from one of my favourite poets – Mary Oliver. When she passed away in January this year the world lost a strong voice of wisdom. I know I’ve shared some of her quotes before, but this time, inspired by Book Riot, I’m sharing quote prints – poetry art! The prints shared are all available on Etsy – I’ve shared links to them.

Before that, let’s take a look at why UNESCO thought it important to have a special day to celebrate poetry.

Poetry reaffirms our common humanity by revealing to us that individuals, everywhere in the world, share the same questions and feelings. Poetry is the mainstay of oral tradition and, over centuries, can communicate the innermost values of diverse cultures.

In celebrating World Poetry Day, March 21, UNESCO recognizes the unique ability of poetry to capture the creative spirit of the human mind.

decision to proclaim 21 March as World Poetry Day was adopted during UNESCO’s 30th session held in Paris in 1999.

Poetry Art : Quotes from Mary Oliver

One of my favorite quotes from Mary Oliver is :

Instructions for living a life.
Pay attention.
Be astonished.
Tell about it.

poetry art : mary oliver quote

My second favourite and one that keeps haunting me is from her poem, The Summer Day.

Tell me, what is it you plan to do with your one wild and precious life?

poetry art : mary oliver quote

If you’ve read her poems, you’ll know that Ms Oliver poetry celebrated her love for Nature. She used birds so often in her poetry. Wild Geese is one of her very well know poems.

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.

poetry art : mary oliver quote

Reminders and affirmations

I love the various reminders and affirmations Mary Oliver wrote on how to live a meaningful life.

Breathe it all in. Love it all out.

poetry art : mary oliver quote

Don’t you just love these words? These were from her work called ‘Evidence’.

I believe in kindness. 
Also in mischief. 
Also in singing, especially when singing is not necessarily prescribed.

poetry art : mary oliver quote

And finally this beauty from her work ‘Owls and other Fantasies’ accompanied by some great poetry art.

I want to be light and frolicsome.
I want to be improbable beautiful and afraid of nothing,
as though I had wings.” 

poetry art : mary oliver quote

Who is your favourite poet and what’s the one line/verse that you love?


  1. the bespectacled mother the bespectacled mother March 27, 2019

    These verses and the art work are both beautiful. I believe in singing too and sing I will even when nobody likes my voice quality or my choice of songs. The meaning here is both literal and symbolic.

  2. Modern Gypsy Modern Gypsy March 25, 2019

    I haven’t read too much of Mary Oliver, but whatever I have read has left a huge impression on me. I plan to buy some more of her books of poetry and allow the soft animal of my body to burrow into her words and wear them like a blanket.

  3. lydiaschoch lydiaschoch March 22, 2019

    Wild Geese is one of my all-time favourite poems. It’s so beautiful.

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