Analysis of “Where Does the Temple Begin. Where Does It End?” by Mary Oliver

Topics: Madrid Metro, Metropolitana di Napoli, Osaka Municipal Subway Pages: 5 (1500 words) Published: April 20, 2013
Sultan Qaboos University- Language Centre

FPEL EEAL0560 Poetry Project File

Analysis of “Where Does the Temple Begin. Where does it end?” by Mary Oliver


Name: Eman Amer Salim AL-amri .

ID Number:102400.

Section: 350 .

Submitted to : Nicholas Hilmers.

Where Does the Temple Begin,

Where Does It End?

There are things you can’t reach.

But you can reach out to them, and all day long.

The wind, the bird flying away.

The idea of God.

And it can keep you as busy as anything else, and happier.

The snake slides away; the fish jumps, like a little lily, out of the water and back in; the goldfinches sing from the unreachable top of the tree.

I look; morning to night I am never done with looking.

Looking I mean not just standing around, but standing around as though with your arms open.

And thinking: maybe something will come, some shining coil of wind,

or a few leaves from any old tree –they are all in this too.

And now I will tell you the truth.

Everything in the world comes.

At least, closer.

And, cordially.

Like the nibbling, tinsel-eyed fish; the unlooping snake.

Like goldfinches, little dolls of gold fluttering around the corner of the sky

of God, the blue air.


Lily: “type of plant that grows from a bulb and that has large white or coloured flowers”.

Finch: “is a small bird with strong beak”.

The poem where does the temple begin, where does it end? Was Written by Mary Oliver and Published in 2004 by Beacon Press in the book Why I Wake early. Mary Oliver is one of the most famous American poets. She was born s on September 10, 1935 Maple Heights, Ohio. Her job is poet and she has taught at several universities. Furthermore she won the Pulitzer Prize in 1984 the L. L. Win ship/PEN New England Award in 1990 and the National Book Award in 1992, and her essays appeared in Best American Essays 1996, 1998 and 2001.( Oliver loves nature and it inspiration and describes the sense of wonder it instills in her. Her creativity is inspired by nature. Moreover Oliver’s poems are filled with lots of imagery and that is because of her daily walks near her home and close to nature. ( )

The meaning of the title is a question, about where can you start looking and thinking and wonders about a miraculous things in nature (animals, wind, plant… etc.) and where you stop doing that. She uses the word temple to give the idea that the nature is a sacred thing .The main theme of the poem is that the writer wants us (the readers) to look at nature with a sense of exploration. Everything will come to you in the end, whether it is something you want to discover in nature or in other meaning you want to achieve it in your life. There are 15 lines in the poem. The speaker is a woman, probably the poet herself. The rhythm of the poem is fast and energetic. The poem doesn’t have a rhyme scheme. There are four similes and one metaphor in the poem. This poem is all about the nature and a sense of wonder.

In the first two lines, the speaker tells us that there are somethings you can’t have. You can’t reach them. Even if you try all day long, you will not reach all of them, for example, some birds in the top the tree or some beautiful fish in a pond. Maybe she also means that there are some dreams you will not be able to achieve all of. Even if you try and work hard to achieve them for several years, you can’t make them all happen. However, you still can have some faith that you may be able to reach some of them if you want it deeply. Line 3 describes the wonderful things that you can see in nature that are made by god. Line 4 tells us that all these amazing creatures were made by of god .Line 5 continues from line 3-4 the feeling that all this nature that god created can keep you busy and wondering about the greatness of nature’s creation. As busy as anything else is a simile,...
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