Wednesday, July 15, 2009

I Don't Want to End Up Simply Having Visited this World

Dr Judith Rich’s breast cancer diagnosis three months ago has brought the ‘death’ word to the forefront of her mind and awareness in a new and urgent way.

In her article about life and death she quotes Mary Oliver's wonderful poem:

When Death Comes (not to worry, this poem is really about life)

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.

Link for the entire article: Dr Judith Rich, Knowing I Will Die Someday, How Then Shall I Live? Huffington Post, 15 July 2009.

Dr Geoff Pound

Geoff can be contacted by email at geoffpound(at) on Facebook and Twitter.

Image: “And I think of each life as a flower” (I took this photo of the field of sunflowers in Provence, France in the northern summer of 2007. The sunflower is such a lovely image of living life to the full and turning yourself towards the light).