An Analysis Of Mary Oliver's Crossing The Swamp

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In her poem, “Crossing the Swamp,” Mary Oliver uses vivid diction, symbolism, and a tonal shift to illustrate the speaker’s struggle and triumph while trekking through the swamp; by demonstrating the speaker’s endeavors and eventual victory over nature, Oliver conveys the beauty of the triumph over life’s obstacles, developing the theme of the necessity of struggle to experience success. Oliver uses descriptive diction throughout her poem to vividly display the obstacles presented by the swamp to the reader, creating a dreary, almost hopeless mood that will greatly contrast the optimistic tone towards the end of the piece. While describing the thicket of swamp, Oliver uses world like “dense,” “dark,” and “belching,” equating the swamp to “slack earthsoup.” This diction develops Oliver’s dark and depressing tone, conveying the hopelessness the speaker feels at this point in his journey due to the obstacles within the swamp. As the speaker eventually overcomes these obstacles, he begins to use words like “sprout,” and “bud,” alluding to new begins and bright futures. The speaker does not dwell on the hardships he has just endured, but instead remarks that he feels “painted and glittered.” The diction used towards the end of the work conveys the new attitude of the speaker. He is overcome with his triumph over the swamp, and now indulges in the beauty of new life and rebirth after struggle. Oliver’s strong diction conveys the speaker’s transformation and personal growth over

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