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Reflections of a working writer and reader



A Poem by Mary Oliver

When Death Comes

When death comes
like the hungry bear in autumn;
when death comes and takes all the bright coins from his purse

to buy me, and snaps his purse shut;
when death comes
like the measle pox;

when death comes
like an iceberg between the shoulder blades,

I want to step through the door full of curiosity, wondering:
what is it going to be like, that cottage of darkness?

And therefore I look upon everything
as a brotherhood and a sisterhood,
and I look upon time as no more than an idea,
and I consider eternity as another possibility,

and I think of each life as a flower, as common
as a field daisy, and as singular,

and each name a comfortable music in the mouth
tending as all music does, toward silence,

and each body a lion of courage, and something
precious to the earth.

When it’s over, I want to say: all my life
I was a bride married to amazement.
I was a bridegroom, taking the world into my arms.

When it’s over, I don’t want to wonder
if I have made of my life something particular, and real.
I don’t want to find myself sighing and frightened
or full of argument.

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

Mary Oliver is an American poet, winner of the National Book Award and the Pulitzer Prize.

5 Responses to “A Poem by Mary Oliver”

  1. Linda says:

    After my mother died this summer, I found myself thinking, “Dylan Thomas really was off the mark, when he wrote that old age should rage against the dying of the light”.

    But I couldn’t find anything that expressed my feelings about what I’d prefer for my own end. Mary Oliver’s poem does that rather well.

  2. JoAnne says:

    I absolutely love this poem. It speaks of life and death as it should be – an adventure. Going out one door and into another world.

  3. Krystal Barbara says:

    I cannot thank you enough for the post.Much thanks again.

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