10 Great Quotes About Poets, Poetry, and Writing by Mary Oliver

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“Poetry isn’t a profession, it’s a way of life. It’s an empty basket; you put your life into it and make something out of that.”

“Poetry is a river; many voices travel in it; poem after poem moves along in the exciting crests and falls of the river waves. None is timeless; each arrives in an historical context; almost everything, in the end, passes. But the desire to make a poem, and the world’s willingness to receive it–indeed the world’s need of it–these never pass.”

“Poetry is a serious business; literature is the apparatus through which the world tries to keep intact its important ideas and feelings.”

“Poetry is one of the ancient arts, and it began, as did all the fine arts, within the original wilderness of the earth. Also, it began through the process of seeing, and feeling, and hearing, and smelling, and touching, and then remembering–I mean remembering in words–what these perceptual experiences were like, while trying to describe the endless invisible fears and desires of our inner lives.”

“Look for verbs of muscle, adjectives of exactitude.”

“The three ingredients of poetry: the mystery of the universe, spiritual curiosity, the energy of language.”

“Rhythm is one of the most powerful of pleasures, and when we feel a pleasurable rhythm we hope it will continue. When it does, it grows sweeter.”

“He is exactly the poem I wanted to write.”

“The poet must not only write the poem but must scrutinize the world intensely, or anyway that part of the world he or she has taken for subject. If the poem is thin, it is likely so not because the poet does not know enough words, but because he or she has not stood long enough among the flowers–has not seen them in any fresh, exciting, and valid way.”

“It’s very important to write things down instantly, or you can lose the way you were thinking out a line. I have a rule that if I wake up at 3 in the morning and think of something, I write it down. I can’t wait until morning – it’ll be gone.”

-Mary Oliver

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