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"The Night Traveler" and "When Death Comes" by Mary Oliver

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  • wdestiny44@aol.com
    THE NIGHT TRAVELER Passing by, he could be anybody: A thief, a tradesman, a doctor On his way to a worried house. But when he stops at your gate, Under the
    Message 1 of 1 , Feb 15, 2004
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      THE NIGHT TRAVELER

      Passing by, he could be anybody:
      A thief, a tradesman, a doctor
      On his way to a worried house.
      But when he stops at your gate,
      Under the room where you lie half-asleep,
      You know it is not just anyone--
      It is the Night Traveler.

      You lean your arms on the sill
      And stare down. But all you can see
      Are bits of wilderness attached to him--
      Twigs, loam and leaves,
      Vines and blossoms. Among these
      You feel his eyes, and his hands
      Lifting something in the air.

      He has a gift for you, but it has no name.
      It is windy and wooly.
      He holds it in the moonlight, and it sings
      Like a newborn beast,
      Like a child at Christmas,
      Like your own heart as it tumbles
      In love's green bed.
      You take it, and he is gone.

      All night -- and all your life, if you are willing--
      It will nuzzle your face, cold-nosed,
      Like a small white-wolf;
      It will curl in your palm
      Like a hard blue stone;
      It will liquify into a cold pool
      Which, when you dive into it,
      Will hold you like a mossy jaw.
      A bath of light. An answer.

      by Mary Oliver
      Winner of the Pulitzer Prize for Poetry
      from the book:
      New and Selected Poems (1992)
      Pages205/6


      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 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.

      by Mary Oliver
      Winner of the Pulitzer Prize for Poetry
      from the book:
      New and Selected Poems (1992)
      Pages 10/11

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