‘When Death Comes’

by Mary Oliver

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 the 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 the 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.

***

Many thanks to regular Flutter commentor Nana Jo for pointing me in the direction of Mary Oliver and ‘When Death Comes’.

Born Sept. 10, 1935, Cleveland, Ohio, U.S., Mary Oliver is an American poet whose work reflects a deep communion with the natural world.  Oliver attended Ohio State University and Vassar College but did not earn a degree.  Her volume American Primitive (1983), which won a Pulitzer Prize, glorifies the natural world, reflecting the American fascination with the ideal of the pastoral life as it was first expressed by Henry David Thoreau.

In other words, a bit of a legend.

(Source: britannica.com)

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