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by Mary Oliver

Analysis: Setting

Where It All Goes Down

Across the twelve different sections of this poem, we move around quite a bit. There are a few interior settings: the old barn and dining room from Section 2, the house in Section 5. But mostly we're outdoors, in the natural world. Sometimes we're zoomed in on a detail, like an ant's tongue or a green moth flapping its wings against a lantern.

But there are two broader settings that we think are pretty important: a graveyard and a field. The graveyard is, of course, a place of mourning and sadness. We stand there scattering flowers. It's a place our speaker left, and urges us to leave, too.

And then there's the field, which is open and expansive. Actually, when you think about it, a graveyard and a field are pretty similar. The main difference is what's in them. The field our speaker urges us into—instead of being filled with tombstones and markers of what's lost—is filled with life.

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