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Bright Life International School English Department Literature The Journey Author Mary Oliver Genre Poem Summary Mary Oliver illustrates the challenges and importance of making tough, personal changes. She uses an extended metaphor that involves a person in a comfortable house during a windy night who accepts the challenge of going outside on a cluttered road. The first step is hard because the person knows that the journey towards personal change is worthwhile but challenging. “The Journey” explores the often-difficult path that must be taken to live one’s own life, rather than the lives of others. Mary Oliver’s poem addresses the challenges of turning away from the voices of the past or present, so that the future may be fully realized. Background Mary Oliver (b.1935) is known for observing the natural world in a way that is both romantic and unflinchingly honest. Oliver’s poems often draw attention to small details—a bird calling, a still pond, a grasshopper. Her vivid imagery of the natural world opens a window for her to explore larger issues, such as love, loss, wonder, and grief. Oliver has published numerous other collections, and has won the Pulitzer Prize for Poetry and a National Book Award. She has also written many essays, as well as two books about the craft of writing poetry. Oliver has taught at colleges and universities including Bennington College in Vermont. Cultural References “Mend my life!” (line 10): make my life better; fix a problem in my life little by little (line 23): slowly kept you company (line 30): stayed with you so you wouldn’t be lonely
ANALYZE LANGUAGE Figurative language is language that communicates meanings beyond the literal meanings of words. In figurative language, words are often used to represent ideas and concepts they would not otherwise be associated with. Poets use figurative language to make revealing comparisons and to help readers see subjects in a new light. In “The Journey,” Mary Oliver uses two types of figurative language: personification and metaphor. personification to give human qualities to an object, animal, or idea. For example, Oliver describes the wind as having stiff fingers, like a human. metaphors to compare two things that are basically unlike but have something in common. Unlike similes, metaphors do not use the words like or as . In “The Journey,” Oliver compares the subject’s emotional state to a trembling house. extended metaphor

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