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by Mary Oliver

Flare Death Quotes

How we cite our quotes: (Section.Line)

Quote #1

Nothing lasts.
There is a graveyard where everything I am talking about is,
now. (3.1-3)

Well, that's blunt. Of course death (and loss) can come just as abruptly as the beginning of this section. Our speaker introduces this image of a graveyard here, which recurs throughout. But here's the question: is she talking about literal death here, or just the loss of things to time? After all, memories are dead, in a way, because they are stuck in the past.

Quote #2

I stood there once, on the green grass, scattering flowers. (3.4)

The image of the graveyard comes along with this image of standing among the graves, scattering flowers. We think it's our speaker's way of representing the time we spend thinking about and mourning what we've lost. We don't think our speaker is against this completely, but we're pretty sure she's against lingering on it for too long, when there's so much natural beauty to behold.

Quote #3

against its heat
against the beak of the crow (4.4-5)

Things don't look too good for this poor moth; it's facing pretty certain death. In one line, it's probably going to singe its wings against the lantern, and in the other it's on its way to becoming a tasty snack for a crow. But the speaker admires the way the moth keeps flapping its wings anyway. We guess it wouldn't mean much to be lively, feisty or brave if there were no death. The moth's resilience is something to be celebrated, according to the speaker.

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