Mary Oliver died yesterday. A poet of consummate grace and depth, I returned often to her work as an aid in my own meditation and spiritual devotion. She had a special capacity for interweaving her questing faith with keen observation of the natural world. She spoke simply, but truly, and in this way aroused deep spiritual well-springs.
Here’s her especially poignant call to life when contemplating the end of her own days. Might we all join her in her hope to live fully, presently, and passionately alert; and without excuse. I suggest you hold on to it for a time you can sit quietly and think deeply—you will be blessed.
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.
When Death Comes