A Poem A Day: The Hungry Bear

This poem makes me stop and re-evaluate the trajectory of my life each and every time I read it. “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.” Isn’t that what we all want? To know we have been part of something real. The statement turns into a question, daring me to answer.

Then, she ends with a real gob-smacker. “I don’t want to end up simply having visited this world.” This poem is everything a poem should be. Evocative, simple, and transports you to somewhere you didn’t know you wanted to go. I love Mary Oliver.

Vaccinium_autumn_colors,_Yellowstone,_Lewis_River_1

When Death Comes

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 his 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 a 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.

In another of her poems, Oliver says, “Tell me what is it you plan to do with your one wild and precious life?”

What indeed.

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  • http://www.wholeparentingfamily.com Nell @ Whole Parenting Family

    J’adore Mary Oliver!!

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  • http://pentaveret.wordpress.com/ daintycate

    “Tell me what is it you plan to do with your one wild and precious life?” Truly one of my favorite lines from Mary Oliver. A beautiful challenge.

  • Pat

    And what shall I do with each wild and precious day of the coming week? And I love that picture.

    I look forward to more poems.

  • Pat

    And what shall I do with each wild and precious day of the coming week? And I love that picture.

    I look forward to more poems.

  • http://thecornerwithaview.blogspot.com/ J.R. Baldwin

    I need to read more Mary Oliver! This decides it – we are going to the library after nap time!

  • http://thecornerwithaview.blogspot.com/ J.R. Baldwin

    I need to read more Mary Oliver! This decides it – we are going to the library after nap time!