© 2016 Shmoop University, Inc. All rights reserved.
When Death Comes

When Death Comes


by Mary Oliver

When Death Comes Man and the Natural World Quotes

How we cite our quotes: (line)

Quote #4

each name a comfortable music in the mouth (line 17)

Again we seem to be both equalizing and elevating each thing. Each name (and, by extension, each thing) is music, whether it's a fruit fly or a golden retriever. And music is lovely.

Quote #5

each body a lion of courage, and something
precious to the earth. (lines 19-20)

The image of the lion lends courage and strength to each living thing. We can't help but reflect back on the image of a flower. A flower also has a strength – the plant pushes up out of the soil, the bud grows and unfurls, the flower holds itself up against gravity and wind. We think our speaker would find this strength and courage equal to that of any lion or muscle man.

Quote #6

I was the bridegroom, taking the world into my arms. (line 23)

Reaching out to, being in contact with the world is crucial for the speaker. Being wedded to the world entails a strong and intimate unity. The use of the infinitive form of the verb ("taking") also makes the act an ongoing thing. The speaker doesn't want to just have an experience one time where she felt connected to the world. She wants to continually make the effort, and be connected.

People who Shmooped this also Shmooped...