A Sign from Mary Oliver

This wonderful sign is a fragment from Mary Oliver’s longish 3-part poem Evidence.

As usual with her poems, there several passages that we could see on that sign board, which is, curiously, the kind used by churches.(Oh for a church where Mary Oliver is quoted and read.)

Here are some beauties, which together, make their own poem:


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

As for the body, it is solid and strong and curious
and full of detail; it wants to polish itself; it
wants to love another body; it is the only vessel in
the world that can hold, in a mix of power and
sweetness: words, song, gesture, passion, ideas,
ingenuity, devotion, merriment, vanity, and virtue.

Keep some room in your heart for the unimaginable.


There are many ways to perish, or to flourish.

How old pain, for example, can stall us at the threshold of function….

….consider, always, every day, the determination of the grass to grow despite the unending obstacles. 


I ask you again: if you have not been enchanted by this adventure–your life–what would do for you? 

Read all of Mary Oliver’s Evidence here. Or buy Evidence, a whole book of her poems that includes…Evidence.

Mary Oliver cover Evidence


Sign via Reading Tea Leaves

8 Responses to A Sign from Mary Oliver

  1. Viviane Chen 07.01.2015 at 8:28am #

    Thank you for the beautiful & inspirational post to start the morning!! Always with much love, v

  2. Kelly O'Berry 07.01.2015 at 10:04am #

    Check out a Unitarian Universalist church near you. Mary Oliver poems are often used used as readings or the focus of entire worship services at my church in Iowa City.

  3. Sally 07.01.2015 at 10:05am #

    Will do. I’m so glad to know this!!!!!

  4. Marguerita Tajibnapis 07.01.2015 at 9:13pm #

    Dear Sally
    Mary Oliver could be considered a scriptural source for the Unitarian Universalists. At the church where I’m a member, First Universalist Church of Minneapolis, her poetry is frequently read from the pulpit as a sacred source. Her poetry is included in our hymnals. So churches exist where “Mary Oliver is quoted and read.”

    There is at least one famous UU church in NYC. Perhaps there is one near you.

  5. Linda Rose 07.02.2015 at 7:46am #

    You wrote “….oh for a church where Mary Oliver is quoted and read.”
    The UU’s (Unitarian Universalists) do indeed read, quote, and publish Mary Oliver’s poetry. Many of her poems are used as readings in church, and are in the hymnal. (See http://www.UUA.org to search for congregations near you. )

  6. Sally 07.03.2015 at 10:51pm #

    Thank you so much. I know nothing about Unitarian Universalists and will certainly check them out. Any church that uses Mary Oliver for their readings has some serious wisdom. Thank you.

  7. Alyce 06.29.2019 at 10:29am #

    Is it ok to share graphics of her work on social media?

  8. Sally Schneider 07.08.2019 at 3:04pm #

    Ok, meaning what?

Leave A Comment

subscribing = loving

If the Improvised Life is a source of creativity, inspiration, ideas and change in your daily life, please consider becoming a Friend with Benefits. A little bit goes a long way towards helping us publish fresh AD-FREE content each day.