"When Death Comes" by Mary Oliver

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"When Death Comes" Explication

"When Death Comes" by Mary Oliver is a very moving piece of poetry. One might assume that the poem is going to be sad or morbid simply because of the title, for death isn't the happiest of subjects. However, the author uses the sadness of death to write a poem about life and happiness. At the start of the poem, the mood is, in fact, sad and depressing. The author repeatedly describes death as something that happens without warning. Phrases like "…death comes like the hungry bear in autumn" and "…death comes like the measle-pox" help to emphasize the idea that death can come at any point in ones life. She also describes death as a person, and says, "death comes and takes all the bright coins from his purse to buy me, and snaps the purse shut." In my opinion, this is the saddest line in the poem. The word "snaps" makes me think of death as something that can happen immediately. Death snaps his purse shut, and ones' life is over. As the poem continues, the mood gradually lightens up. The author uses melancholy views of death to write a poem that is, in fact, about life and its beauty. She lists many things that she wants to achieve in life. Not material things, but personal things. For instance, when death comes to her, she wants to be able to say that she was "a bride married to amazement…taking life into [her] arms". She says, " I want to step through the door or curiosity, wondering: what is it going to be like, that cottage of darkness." Here she states that although she does not want to dwell on the fact that her life will someday come to an end, it is perfectly normal to wonder about death. She compares people to a field of daisies, saying that she wants to meet people, and love them as a whole, as well as individuals. She considers every person as a precious gift to the earth. She talks about thinking of a relationship as "a brotherhood and a sisterhood" meaning she wants to connect with people on deeper levels than just...
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