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A Near Death Experience Breeds Rebirth By Mary Oliver

764 words - 4 pages

A Near-Death Experience Breeds RebirthHow close have you come to dying? What value do you place on your own life? Mary Oliver poses these very deep and thought-provoking questions to the reader in her short poem, “Alligator Poem.”In the poem, the persona has an experience in which she comes very close to death: an alligator walks by her as she drank some water out of a river while sitting on a riverbank. Oliver describes it in this way: “I didn't understand/I drank up to the very moment it came/crashing toward me/its tail flailing/like a bundle of swords/slashing the grass/and the inside of its cradle-shaped mouth/gaping/and rimmed with teeth and/that's how I almost died/of foolishness/in ...view middle of the document...

Most likely, she will exercise caution further in the future.
Another aspect that the persona takes away from this experience is her acknowledgement of the living qualities of nature. Oliver explains this with the passage directly after the description of the rebirth: “…The water, that circle of shattered glass/healed itself with a slow whisper/and lay back/with the back-lit light of polished steel/and the birds, in the endless waterfalls of the trees/shook open the snowy pleats of their wings, and drifted away.”The persona now sees living value of nature, and how it is not merely inanimate objects, but a being just like us. Before the near-death experience, the persona of the poem was blind to this truism. Unfortunately, it took a bout with death to expose these facts, but it is equally important that she now understands this.
This newfound value is already evident in the persona’s life. Oliver makes sure to show the persona’s transformation in concrete details: “…I reached out/I picked the wild flowers from the grass around me/blue stars/and blood-red trumpets/on long green stems/for hours in my trembling hands they glittered/like fire.” ...

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