Themes :

Sacred poetry often portrays death from an upside-down perspective in which death is sought with an enthusiasm that can, at times, sound almost suicidal. Without understanding of this imagery, it can sound as if every mystic and saint has some strange death wish.

In deep ecstasy, the sense of individuality, the sense of "I" thins and can completely disappear. Though you still walk and breathe and talk, there is no "you" performing these actions. The separate identity, the ego, disappears, to be replaced by a vast, borderless sense of Self. Suddenly, who you have always thought yourself to be vanishes and, in its place, stands You, a radiant being whose boundaries are no longer perceived in terms of flesh or space.

It is this experience, this complete shedding of the limited body of the ego, that is the death so eagerly sought by mystics throughout time. This is the death that leads to new life, to use the language of Christian mysticism.

Poems with the theme of Death

  A Morning Offering
  For Light
  Abil-Kheir, Abu-Said Rise early at dawn, when our storytelling begins
  Adyashanti Rest and Be Taken
  Akha Let it be whatever is in the book
  al-Nuri, Abu 'l-Husayn I had supposed that, having passed away
  Ammons, A. R. An Improvisation for Angular Momentum
  Ammons, A. R. Rogue Elephant
  Angelou, Maya A Brave and Startling Truth
  Angelou, Maya Caged Bird
  Angelou, Maya Million Man March Poem
  Angelou, Maya Still I Rise
  Angelou, Maya The Detached
  Ansari, Khwaja Abdullah The one You kill
  Attar, Farid ud-Din The Simurgh
  Attar, Farid ud-Din The Pupil asks; the Master answers
  Attar, Farid ud-Din A dervish in ecstasy
  Attar, Farid ud-Din Looking for your own face
  Aurobindo The Guest
  Bahu, Sultan So what if love's idol is hidden? One's heart will never be far away
  Battacharya, Mahendranath What shall I say to You, Sankari?
  ben Kallir, Eleazar He Shall be King!
  Bernart de Ventadorn When I see the lark beating
  Berrigan, Daniel Consolation
  Berry, Wendell Manifesto: The Mad Farmer Liberation Front
  Berry, Wendell Testament
  Berry, Wendell The Silence
  Blake, William Auguries of Innocence
  Blake, William Trembling I sit day and night (from Jerusalem)
  Bradstreet, Anne There is a path no vulture's eye hath seen (from The Vanity of All Worldly Things)
  Broughton, James Take the whole kit
  Bulleh Shah Seek the spirit, forget the form
  Bulleh Shah this love -- O Bulleh -- tormenting, unique
  Carpenter, Edward Freedom at last!
  Carpenter, Edward The sun shines, as of old
  Cavafy, Constantine P. Ionian Song
  Crashaw, Richard A Song
  Crashaw, Richard To the Name above every Name, the Name of Jesus
  cummings, e. e. i am a little church(no great cathedral)
  cummings, e. e. i thank You God for most this amazing
  cummings, e. e. now does our world descend
  Dickinson, Emily A word is dead
  Dickinson, Emily There came a Day at Summer's full
  Dickinson, Emily I see thee better -- in the Dark
  Dickinson, Emily Our journey had advanced
  Dickinson, Emily The Loneliness One dare not sound
  Dickinson, Emily More than the Grave is closed to me
  Efendi, Seyh Ibrahim The Sufi Way
  Emre, Yunus I haven't come here to settle down
  Emre, Yunus Let's Take Yunus Emre
  Farid, Baba Sheikh Raga Asa
  Feng-kan (Big Stick) Sinking like a rock in the sea
  Feuerstein, Georg Odin's Ordeal
  Francis of Assisi Exhortation to St. Clare and Her Sisters
  Francis of Assisi The Canticle of Brother Sun
  Francis of Assisi The Canticle of Brother Sun
  Ghalib, Mirza The Rose with its redolent petals
  Gibran, Kahlil Good and Evil
  Gorakhnath Gorakh Bani
  Granger, Ivan M. Goodnight Moon
  Granger, Ivan M. Empty Dawn
  Granger, Ivan M. Medusa
  Hafiz (Ladinsky, Daniel) How Could a Lover Fall?
  Hafiz (Ladinsky, Daniel) Love is the Funeral Pyre
  Hakuin The monkey is reaching
  Hallaj, Mansur al- Kill me, my faithful friends
  Han-shan (Cold Mountain) I spur my horse past the ruined city;
  Hanh, Thich Nhat Fall Moon Festival
  Hanh, Thich Nhat Please Call Me by My True Names
  Hildegard von Bingen O spectabiles viri / Antiphon for Patriarchs and Prophets
  Howe, Marie Annunciation
  Howe, Marie The Last Time
  Ibn al-Farid, Umar Be drunk from it (from The Wine Ode (al-Khamriyah))
  Iraqi, Fakhruddin We Yield Our Hearts
  Islam, Nazrul mother, i may have been a naughty child
  Izzet, Asik Ali The Path of the Beautiful
  Jacobsen, Rolf The Silence Afterwards
  Jacopone da Todi (Benedetti, Jacopone) Now, a new creature
  Jayadeva Raga Gujri
  Jayadeva You rest on the circle of Sri's breast (from The Gitagovinda)
  John of the Cross I Live Yet Do Not Live in Me
  John of the Cross Love's Living Flame
  Kabir O Slave, liberate yourself
  Kabir Tell me, O Swan, your ancient tale
  Kabir The light of the sun, the moon, and the stars shines bright
  Kabir The Time Before Death
  Kabir When the Day Came
  Kamalakanta O Kali, my Mother full of Bliss!
  Kerouac, Jack Bowery Blues
  Kerouac, Jack The Scripture of the Golden Eternity
  Khayyam, Omar [34] Then to this earthen Bowl did I adjourn
  Khayyam, Omar [37] Ah, fill the Cup: -- what boots it to repeat
  Khayyam, Omar [52 - later edition] But that is but a Tent wherein may rest
  Khusrow Dehlawi, Amir I Asked
  Krishnamurti, Jiddu Song of the Beloved (from The Immortal Friend)
  Kuzminsky, Irina Eyeing Death
  Lalla I, Lalla, willingly entered through the garden-gate
  Lawrence, D. H. And Oh--That The Man I Am Might Cease To Be--
  Lawrence, D. H. Self Pity
  Lee, Li-Young From Blossoms
  Levertov, Denise The Secret
  Llull, Ramon January (from The Book of the Lover and Beloved)
  Lowitz, Leza Waiting
  Maghribi, Muhammad Shirin O End of Every Beginning
  Maharshi, Ramana The Marital Garland of Letters
  Maharshi, Ramana The Necklet of Nine Gems
  Masahide Masahide's Death Poem
  McCombs, Chris Come Have a Drink
  Meher Baba How Wonderful is the murderous mercy of God!
  Merwin, W. S. Thanks
  Milarepa The Song of the Twelve Deceptions
  Mistral, Gabriela Song of Death
  Mistral, Gabriela Those Who Do Not Dance
  Mueller, Lisel What is Left to Say
  Nachmanides (Nachman, Moses ben) Prayers for the Protection and Opening of the Heart
  Neruda, Pablo Gautama Christ
  Neruda, Pablo Keeping Quiet
  Neruda, Pablo Still Another Day: XVII Men
  Novalis Over I journey
  Novalis The youth thou art who ages long hast stood
  Novalis Uplifted is the stone
  Nurbakhsh, Javad The Beloved
  Nurbakhsh, Javad The Pain of Love
  Oliver, Mary Bone
  Oliver, Mary Have You Ever Tried to Enter the Long Black Branches?
  Oliver, Mary Sunrise
  Oliver, Mary The Summer Day
  Oliver, Mary When Death Comes
  Osborne, Arthur Be Still
  Osborne, Arthur Death
  P'ang Yun (Layman P'ang) The mind is like a reflection in a mirror
  Porete, Marguerite How Love names the Soul by twelve names
  Porete, Marguerite Peace of charity in the annihilated life
  Rabia al-Basri (Adawiyya, Rabia al-) Brothers, my peace is in my aloneness
  Ramakrishna Is there anyone in the universe
  Ramprasad (Sen, Ramprasad) Conquer Death with the drumbeat Ma! Ma! Ma!
  Ramprasad (Sen, Ramprasad) Of what use is my going to Kasi any more?
  Ramprasad (Sen, Ramprasad) So I say: Mind, don't you sleep
  Ramprasad (Sen, Ramprasad) This time I shall devour Thee utterly, Mother Kali!
  Ramsay, Jay At Fintry House
  Ramsay, Jay Blessed Unrest
  Ramsay, Jay St. Ives
  Rilke, Rainer Maria Be ahead of all parting, as if it had already happened
  Rilke, Rainer Maria For your sake poets sequester themselves
  Rilke, Rainer Maria O Lacrimosa
  Roethke, Theodore In a Dark Time
  Rosenstock, Gabriel snake unwinding
  Rumi, Mevlana Jelaluddin Inner Wakefulness
  Rumi, Mevlana Jelaluddin Like This
  Rumi, Mevlana Jelaluddin No end to the journey
  Rumi, Mevlana Jelaluddin This love sacrifices all souls, however wise, however "awakened"
  Ryokan To kindle a fire
  Sa'di How could I ever thank my Friend?
  Sa'di If one His praise of me would learn
  Sanai, Hakim Bloom Like a Rose
  Shabkar (Rangdrol, Shabkar Tsogdruk) All sounds are the resonance of voidness
  Shankara The Shattering of Illusion (Moha Mudgaram from The Crest Jewel of Discrimination)
  Shih-te (Pickup) Doesn't anyone see
  Shore, Laura Jan Again
  Silesius, Angelus I do not believe in death: I die by the hour, each day
  Solovyov, Vladimir Three Meetings
  Solovyov, Vladimir Triumphing over death from the start (from Three Meetings)
  Soseki, Muso Hui-neng's Pond
  Soseki, Muso Toki-no-Ge (Satori Poem)
  Stafford, William The Gift
  Stein, Edith Novena Of The Holy Spirit
  Szekely, Edmond Bordeaux Do not wait for death (from The Communions)
  Szymborska, Wislawa Children of Our Era
  Szymborska, Wislawa Classifieds
  Szymborska, Wislawa I'm Working on the World
  Szymborska, Wislawa Miracle Fair
  T'ao Ch'ien Success and failure? No known address
  Taliesin Taliesin's Song of his Origins
  Teresa of Avila I Live Without Living In Me
  Teresa of Avila In the Hands of God
  Thayumanavar All visible life that is clothed in body vesture (from Bliss that is Perfect Full)
  Thayumanavar Prayer to Being - Let Us Contemplate
  Thompson, Francis The Hound of Heaven
  Tiruvalluvar Impermanence
  Tolkien, J. R. R. EŠrendil the Mariner
  Trinley, Karma A Song on the View of Voidness
  Trungpa, Chogyam A Heart Lost and Discovered
  Trungpa, Chogyam Expose
  Tsogyel, Yeshe The Supreme Being is the Dakini Queen of the Lake of Awareness!
  Twichell, Chase Saint Animal
  Underhill, Evelyn Corpus Christi
  Underhill, Evelyn Dynamic Love
  Ungar, Lynn Passover
  Valad, Sultan The Soul That Does not Live in God is not Alive
  Vaughan, Henry The Night
  Vivekananda Kali the Mother
  Vivekananda Song of the Sanyasin
  Walters, Dorothy The Winemakers
  Whitman, Walt [6] A child said What is the grass? fetching it to me with full hands (from Song of Myself)
  Whitman, Walt [7] Has anyone supposed it lucky to be born? (from Song of Myself)
  Whitman, Walt [24] Walt Whitman, a cosmos, of Manhattan the son (from Song of Myself)
  Whyte, David All the True Vows
  Yeats, William Butler A Drunken Man's Praise of Sobriety