* Site-Outage Notice: Our engineering elves will be tweaking the Shmoop site from Monday, December 22 10:00 PM PST to Tuesday, December 23 5:00 AM PST. The site will be unavailable during this time.
Dismiss
© 2014 Shmoop University, Inc. All rights reserved.
Flare

Flare

by Mary Oliver

Analysis: What's Up With the Title?

A flare is something we use to draw attention, or as a signal for help. As in, hey, my car is broken down over here—don't run into it! Or, hey airplane, I'm down here stranded on this island, please pick me up! We think our speaker definitely wants to call our attention to what she has to say. And that's a good way to start a poem—by catching our eye and drawing our attention to its message.

But "flare" can also mean an increase or outburst (maybe you've heard someone say that "tensions flared.") Specifically, this often refers to brightness, like the way our speaker uses the word in the first section of the poem: the sunrise "flaring all over the eastern sky" (1.4). We think this burst of light might also be what our speaker (and most poems) are going for: a flash of illumination, a brief insight.

And finally, there's the way our speaker connects the word to the sun. After all, there's this daily illumination of all the things in this world, and our speaker wants us to take note.

People who Shmooped this also Shmooped...

Advertisement
Noodle's College Search
Advertisement
Advertisement
Advertisement