Owls and Mary Oliver

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Brooke Herr
AP English III
3A
Mary Oliver shows both the beautiful and terrifying aspects of nature in “Owls”. She uses a variety of rhetorical questions to show her style throughout the entire passage; which gives us a better look at the complexity of nature.

For instance the very first paragraph starts with an extensive sentence that flows with imagery. “When the great horned [owl] is in the trees its razor-tipped toes rasp the limb, flakes of bark fall through the air and land on my shoulders while I look up at it and listen to the heavy, crisp, breathy snapping of its hooked beak.” Oliver is describing to us the great horned owl and what looks like in its surroundings. Instead of just saying that the owl has a beak with white feathers she goes into a great detail by stating, “I look up at it and listen to the heavy, crisp, breathy snapping of its hooked beak… I can imagine sitting quietly before that luminous wanderer the snowy owl, and learning, from the white gleam of its feather, something about the Arctic.” Oliver uses an abundance of imagery words to help us get a clearer picture of what she is trying to convey to us. Not only does it assist in imaging a sketch of what is going on, but it keeps a reader more interested into what the author has to say.

Mary Oliver uses bunches of rhetorical devices to help express all her emotions about nature. She has mixed feelings with her thinking it is beautiful and terrifying all at the same time. By using the paradox “immobilizing happiness” it supports this mixed feeling that she shows us. Oliver states, “The screech owl I can imagine on my wrist…if one of those should touch me it would be the center of my life, and I must fall.” The second part is contrasting the first part. She says that she can imagine it on her wrist and learn from the owl, but then she goes opposite of that and says that if it would touch her then she would fall. All of this contrast in her writing lets us start to grasp what kind...
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