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When Death Comes

When Death Comes


by Mary Oliver

Stanza 6 Summary

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

Lines 15-16

and I think of each life as a flower, as common
as a field daisy, and as singular,

  • Our speaker thinks of each life as a flower for two reasons: to recognize its commonness, and also its individuality.
  • Now it's life (instead of death) that is given an image.
  • A flower seems a fragile image in the face of death. Flowers are known for being short-lived; they bloom, and they're beautiful, then they're gone.
  • Still, since the poem has just questioned the nature of death and time, perhaps a flower is no more frail than anything else.
  • (Plus, the field daisy that exists in this poem and our imaginations lives in a sort of eternity).
  • The image of the flower also seems to be a way of making all life equal; equally common (there are lots of flowers out there) and equally unique (no two flowers are exactly alike).
  • From our speaker we get the feeling that a flower's life, in a sense, is no less valuable than a person's.

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