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 (ganggarden.wordpress.com). See www.tendrepress.com 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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