Mary Oliver: “When Death Comes”

From the wonderful, daily poetry chaikhana, this poem from November 14th . . .

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 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.

 — from New and Selected Poems, by Mary Oliver

/ Photo by AlicePopkorn /

About Ann Kreilkamp

I'm a Ph.D. philosopher, author, magazine founder and editor, and consulting astrologer who took the Permaculture Design Course in 2007. In 2009 I deepened my committment to both "above" and "below" by starting to attend UFO conferences and founding a neighborhood permaculture garden ( See for bio, etc.
This entry was posted in 2012, elder wisdom, multidimensions, unity consciousness, visions of the future, waking up, wild new ideas. Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to Mary Oliver: “When Death Comes”

  1. Rita says:

    One of my favorite Oliver poems. Thanks for sharing, Ann. And the accompanying photo/image is stunning.

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