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When Death Comes

When Death Comes


by Mary Oliver

Stanza 11 Summary

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

Line 28

I don't want to end up simply having visited this world.

  • Our speaker doesn't want to have simply lived like a visitor in this world.
  • If she doesn't want to simply have visited it, then what are the other possibilities?
  • "Visited" suggests temporary, but we doubt that's the main way she means it, since she is acknowledging in the poem that she will die, meaning life is always temporary.
  • "Visited" also implies a shallow, or lesser, involvement. Being a visitor means being an outsider. You walk around, maybe you watch the people or look at the architecture; but you don't have much of a part in the life of the place, and you don't really know it very well, at least compared to a local.
  • So perhaps she wants to have been a part, to really have gotten to know her way around.
  • She wants to have made herself at home in the world before she leaves it.

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