Sing Me To Sleep, Your Sweet Poetry


A friend turned me onto Mary Oliver’s poetry a while back, and since that time I’ve been obsessed – devouring her every word, salivating over every turn of phrase, and eating up her works in the frenzy of obsession that accompanies the discovery of a great artist. Ms. Oliver has a wonderful way of placing the human experience within the natural world, heightening it but keeping it a small part of the universe. Her take on the world is calming, her words are healing, and her passion for life – for living and loving and embracing each moment we have – is an inspiration. I need to be reminded of that. A lot of us do.

I’ve been taking her to bed with me to ease a recent bout with insomnia, and she never fails to elicit a sigh or a thrill or the simple recognition of a soul who has also tasted sometimes too much, but with absolutely no regrets. She makes me want to be present, to be kinder, to be better. More importantly, she makes me want to love more, no matter what. Some of us tend to hold that back because it can hurt. Yes, love can hurt. But I’d rather be ripped apart by love than safely unaware of it. I would do all of this again, over and over, to have known what I know.

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 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.


From ‘New and Selected Poems: Volume One’

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