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When Death Comes

When Death Comes

by Mary Oliver

Stanza 10 Summary

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

Lines 24-25

When it's over, I don't want to wonder
if I have made of my life something particular, and real.

  • When she dies, the speaker doesn't want to have to wonder if she lived a unique and engaging life.
  • This seems kind of like a richer and more interesting way of saying: I want my life to be special; I don't want it to feel wasted or like it went by in a sort of vague, unreal blur.
  • Or to sum it up even more concisely: I don't want to have any doubts or regrets.
  • "Particular" reminds us of that word "singular" back in line 16.

Lines 26-27

I don't want to find myself sighing and frightened,
or full of argument.

  • She doesn't want to have regrets, or fear, or anger. She wants to be ready for death, and not fight against it.
  • Now she seems to be saying more plainly what she has been saying throughout the poem.
  • She says it so plainly and succinctly, we're not really sure what to add. (We swear we're not just getting lazy!)

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