Death and Life

Posted on Wednesday, July 13, 2011 in Imagination, Leadership

For the Anniversary of My Death


Every year without knowing it I have passed the day

When the last fires will wave to me

And the silence will set out

Tireless Traveler

Like the beam of a lightless star


Then I will no longer

Find myself in life as in a strange garment

Surprised at the earth

And the love of one woman

And the shamelessness of men

As today writing after three days of rain

Hearing the wren sing and the falling cease

And bowing not knowing to what

–W. S. Merwin. From The Lice (Atheneum) Copyright (c) 1967 by W. S. Merwin.


Although this poem is partially about the finality of death, it is cheerful,  incredibly beautiful, and uplifting.

It is a wonderful reminder of the beauty on this planet, here and now.

It is a wonderful reminder that even in the midst of hard times,  challenges and despair, life is lovely if we only shift our focus and look around.

It is also a wonderful reminder about the importance of mystery.  We know very little of death and life.

A task of leadership is to instill hope and not to offer it falsely but to offer it authentically.

Acknowledging the truth first, as Merwin acknowledges that we will all die, opens the door to genuine hope.

Wren Image:  Seabamirum


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