Imbolc is a pagan holiday which celebrates, not Spring, but rather, the promise of Spring. It is also the sacred day of Brigid the Bright, Celtic Triple Goddess of healing, creative handiwork and (most importantly for today's post) poetry.
The Imbolc Cyberspace Poetry Slam has been celebrated for quite a few years now by many pagans around the blogosphere. On February 1st or 2nd, people post a favourite poem written by themselves or by another so that, collectively, a vast internet web of poetry is woven to honour Brigid, the Goddess of Poetry.
This year I am posting a poem by Mary Oliver, the National Book Award and Pulitzer Prize winning American poet, who died last month at 83. She was predeceased by her partner of more than 40 years, the photographer Molly Malone Cook. Mary Oliver's beloved poems have inspired many women to embrace the twin spiritual truths of reverence for nature and of personal empowerment.
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 having simply visited this world.