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Rest Well, Mary Oliver

Lately, I have discovered working-class poetry, written by those who were laborers without the advantages of higher education. More on that later! I think Mary Oliver would have approved and applauded these unconventional poets. Why should poetry be for the select few?

Ms. M. bridged the divide, she made poetry accessible to all. I'm grateful that she lived her life paying attention and telling us what she found. She left a beautiful legacy. I was saddened to learn of her death on January 17, 2019.

She wrote this poem for a friend's funeral.

When Death Comes by Mary Oliver (9.10.35 - 1.17.19)

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 measles-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 is 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.

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