Mary Oliver's poetry did that for me as it did for so many others. There was a joy in her nature inspired poetry, but she also wrote about the darker side of life. She wrote about the abuse she suffered as a child and about the lung cancer that almost took her life.
Although she won a Pulitzer Prize, what she seemed to want more was that her poetry spoke to people. Oliver said, "Poetry to be understood must be clear. It mustn't be fancy,"
Inspired by her long walks in nature, she captured a spirituality that appealed to so many people.
Mary Oliver left this life on Thursday. She was 83 years old and had been suffering with lymphoma.
Her poem, "When Death Comes" spoke of how she wanted her own death to be.
When Death Comes
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 a 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.
I hope you found your final journey to be a joyous one full of curiosity.
I know that you left this world a richer place.