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Flare

Flare

by Mary Oliver

Section 10 Summary

Get out the microscope, because we’re going through this poem line-by-line.

Lines 1-2

Therefore, tell me:
what will engage you?

  • Our speaker wants to know what will get us involved, make us pay attention.
  • That "Therefore" catches our eye. This is a brand new section, so how can you start with a therefore?
  • Why does the speaker want to know what will engage us? Is being engaged an antidote (or alternative) to carrying around our childhood misery?

Lines 3-5

What will open the dark fields of your mind,
like a lover
at first touching?

  • More questions for us pondering readers. The speaker's continuing the line of questioning that started off this section, and now compares your mind—which she wants to be engaged—to dark fields (we're guessing they're dark because they're not yet engaged—we need the light to flick on). 
  • By referring to your mind as a field in a metaphor here, the speaker connects the natural world with the idea of being engaged or having an open mind. Just how those two things are connected isn't quite clear.
  • But there's another layer to the figurative language here: that sexy simile, which gives us the impression that there's something really intimate and personal about opening our minds and being engaged. 
  • She might also be talking about the way that the first touch of a new lover can make a person aware of their body in a new way. And hey, this speaker's all about awareness. 
  • The gist? Our speaker wants to engage us. She wants us to stay focused on the present, to keep our minds open to the world rather than whining about our childhood.

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