Updike on Death

The following poem, a remarkably jaunty and sardonic performance and presumably written in the weeks before John Updike’s death, will be included in the posthumous collection Endpoint. Thanks to Reuters for making it available.



by John Updike


It came to me the other day:

Were I to die, no one would say,

‘Oh, what a shame! So young, so full

Of promise – depths unplumbable!


Instead, a shrug and tearless eyes

Will greet my overdue demise;

The wide response will be, I know,

‘I thought he died a while ago.’


For life’s a shabby subterfuge,

And death is real, and dark, and huge.

The shock of it will register

Nowhere but where it will occur.

2 thoughts on “Updike on Death

  1. I’ve been re-reading Rabbit Run, having not given it much thought for about 25 years, and forgot what a virtuoso Updike was. Like Lebron James or Yo Yo Ma, he was so skillful it was possible to ignore how enormously talented he was.

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