You may not recognize her name, but words crafted by Pulitzer prize-wining poet Mary Oliver have most certainly found their way into your life. Oliver, who passed away on last week from lymphoma, has been called the most-quoted poet of our time. In the age of the internet, her poems (though often unattributed) have made their way onto inspirational photos and Instagram posts. Before that, they were a staple of greeting cards. You get the picture. During her 83 years on this earth, she became an ingrained part of our culture.
While many identify Oliver’s contemplative and honest musings about the world as thoughtful prayers or hope given to the hopeless (which they are), I have always found that she spoke to the traveler in me. In her words I find the motivation to embrace all parts of not only myself but the world around me. To be an eager participant in life. To find muses in the big and small, beautiful and not so beautiful. Here are some of my favorite Mary Oliver lines—may they inspire you as you experience whatever journey comes next.
I don’t want to end up having simply visited the world.
Whoever you are, no matter how lonely / The world offers itself to your imagination / Calls to you like the wild geese, harsh and exciting
Tell me, what is it you plan to do with your one wild and precious life?
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.
Instructions for living a life:
Tell about it.