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.
by Mary Oliver
Mary Oliver died this week, in her own home, at 83 years old. The worldwide web is full with the loving words of many people expressing their gratitude and appreciation for her and her many works of poetry-art (and here is a rare and beautiful interview with her from a few years ago).
And of course I can’t know, but I don’t think death found her ‘sighing and frightened, or full of argument’. I feel sadness and poignancy at her passing, and somehow want to assure her that she doesn’t have to wonder and yes, she really has ‘made of her life something particular, and real’. And that her poems speak of how she has been ‘married to amazement’, and how she has ‘taken the world into her arms’.
And I wholeheartedly hope, and right now renew my aim, to do the same.