10 September - Mary Oliver

Bio: Mary Oliver was born in Maple Heights, Ohio in 1935. She lives in Provincetown, Massachusetts, where she moved with her late partner Molly Malone Cook in the 1950s.

Oliver’s poetry is strongly influenced by her love for nature, especially that of Cape Cod, and is often accompanied with a sense of spirituality. 

The Harvard Review remarked that Mary Oliver “is a poet of wisdom and generosity whose vision allows us to look intimately at a world not of our making.” 

Oliver is known to be a very private person and prefers to express herself through her writing. Her work has been recognised with the Pulitzer and American National Book Award.

Anecdotes: 

  • Mary Oliver is a great admirer of Edna St. Vincent Millay. She briefly lived in the poet’s house, where she helped St. Vincent Millay’s sister sort through papers left behind by St. Vincent Millay.
  • Oliver attended both Ohio State University and Vassar College, without receiving a degree.
  • Drawing a lot of inspiration from her walks and writing much of her poetry outdoors, Oliver apparently hid pencils in some trees after she found herself with no pen on one of her walks.

(Sources: 123, 4)

Final sentences:

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

from “When Death Comes

Watch, now, how I start the day
in happiness, in kindness.

from “Why I Wake Early

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

from “The Summer Day

And my heart panics not to be, as I long to be,
the empty, waiting, pure, speechless receptacle.

from “Blue Iris

More final sentences


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