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When Death Comes

When Death Comes

by Mary Oliver

Stanza 8 Summary

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

Lines 19-20

and each body a lion of courage, and something
precious to the earth.

  • Our speaker thinks of every living thing as courageous and precious.
  • The image of a lion lends a strength and nobility to each living thing.
  • Saying "body" is interesting, because, while it is at once very broad and all inclusive (everything has a body), whenever we hear "body" we can't help thinking of that other word that so often comes along with it: soul. Presumably, if there is some existence in that dark cottage of death, we won't be bringing our body with us. But our speaker doesn't come out at make any claims about being more than our bodies, so we think it's best not to linger too long on the thought.

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