Study Guide

Flare Man and the Natural World

By Mary Oliver

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Man and the Natural World

For the speaker of "Flare," the natural world is where it's at. Need a break from the hustle and bustle of your responsibilities? Frolic in a field. Need some solace from your sorrows? Take a hike. Want a moment of peace and quiet? Look long and hard at the nearest insect. You never know what beautiful surprises you'll find.

Questions About Man and the Natural World

  1. Why does our speaker talk so much about birds, trees, moths, leaves, flowers, and so on? What is it about them that so fascinates her? Do any lines in the poem clue you in?
  2. Our speaker mentions the ability of a poem to make us feel like "a part of everything." (8.8) Do you get the sense from this poem that there is no divide between man and nature? Does the poem let you, momentarily at least, feel a greater connection with the world? How so?
  3. Do you think our speaker's focus on the natural world is just a personal preference? Could someone else get the same level of experience from, say, urban architecture or movies? Could this poem make the same point if it was about being in a library, for example?

Chew on This

For the speaker of this poem, our disconnection from the natural world underlies most of our sadness and suffering. The main problem with lingering on the pain of the past is that it takes our attention away from the natural world around us.

The natural world is just an escape for this speaker. She may think it's solving her problems, but really it's just delaying them. Nothing a good therapy session couldn't fix.

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