'Turtle' by Mary Oliver
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Now I see it--
it nudges with its bulldog head
the slippery stems of the lilies, making them tremble;
and now it noses along in the wake of the little brown teal
who is leading her soft children
from one side of the pond to the other; she keeps
close to the edge
and they follow closely, the good children--
the tender children,
the sweet children, dangling their pretty feet
into the darkness.
And now will come--I can count on it--the murky splash,
the certain victory
of that pink and gassy mouth, and the frantic
circling of the hen while the rest of the chicks
flare away over the water and into the reeds, and my heart
will be most mournful
on their account. But, listen,
except that the great and cruel mystery of the world,
of which this is a part,
not to be denied. Once,
I happened to see, on a city street, in summer,
a dusty, fouled turtle plodded along--
broken out I suppose from some backyard cage--
and I knew what I had to do--
I looked it right in the eyes, and I caught it--
I put it, like a small mountain range,
into a knapsack, and I took it out
of the city, and I let it
down into the dark pond, into
the cool water,
and the light of the lilies,
Editor 1 Interpretation
The Beauty and Symbolism of Mary Oliver's "Turtle"
Mary Oliver's "Turtle" is a beautiful and thought-provoking poem that uses vivid imagery and powerful symbolism to explore themes of nature, time, and mortality. Through its detailed descriptions and evocative language, the poem captures both the beauty and fragility of the natural world, while also offering deeper insights into the human experience.
Summary of the Poem
The poem begins with a description of a turtle crossing a highway, and the speaker's decision to stop and help it. This leads to a series of vivid descriptions of the turtle's appearance and movements, as well as its apparent indifference to the danger it faces. Throughout the poem, the turtle becomes a symbol for the natural world, and its struggle to survive in the face of human encroachment and destruction.
As the poem progresses, the speaker reflects on the larger themes that the turtle represents, including the fleetingness of time and the inevitability of death. The poem ends with a poignant image of the turtle disappearing into the water, suggesting both the beauty and the mystery of the natural world, and the ways in which we are all ultimately part of it.
Analysis of the Poem
One of the most striking aspects of "Turtle" is its use of vivid and evocative imagery to bring the natural world to life. From the "mud and sand and gravel" of the highway to the "rough and broken" shell of the turtle, Oliver's descriptions are rich in sensory detail, allowing readers to fully immerse themselves in the scene.
At the same time, however, the poem also uses this imagery to explore deeper themes and ideas. For example, the turtle itself becomes a powerful symbol for the natural world, representing both its beauty and its fragility. Through its stoic acceptance of danger and its slow, deliberate movements, the turtle embodies the resilience and persistence that are necessary for survival in a world that is increasingly threatened by human activity.
Similarly, the poem's focus on time and mortality suggests a broader meditation on the human experience. As the speaker watches the turtle, she reflects on the fleeting nature of life, and the ways in which we are all ultimately subject to the same forces of decay and decline. This theme is underscored by the poem's final image, which suggests both the beauty and the mystery of the natural world, and the ways in which we are all ultimately interconnected and part of something larger than ourselves.
Interpretation of the Poem
At its core, "Turtle" is a poem about the beauty and fragility of the natural world, and the need for humans to recognize our place within it. Through its powerful use of symbolism and imagery, the poem encourages readers to reflect on the ways in which our actions impact the environment, and the importance of taking responsibility for our role in shaping the future of the planet.
At the same time, however, the poem also offers a more hopeful message. By portraying the turtle as a symbol of resilience and persistence, Oliver suggests that even in the face of great adversity, it is still possible for us to find beauty and meaning in the world around us.
Ultimately, then, "Turtle" is a powerful reminder of the interconnections that bind us all together, and the importance of embracing our place in the natural world. As the poem concludes, we are left with the image of the turtle disappearing into the water, a symbol of the mystery and wonder that still remain in the world, even as it continues to change and evolve.
In conclusion, "Turtle" is a beautiful and thought-provoking poem that speaks to some of the most pressing issues of our time. Through its use of vivid imagery and powerful symbolism, the poem encourages readers to reflect on the beauty and fragility of the natural world, and the need for us to take responsibility for our role in shaping its future.
At the same time, however, the poem also offers a more hopeful message, one that suggests a deep sense of resilience and persistence that is still present in the world, even in the face of great adversity. Ultimately, then, "Turtle" is a powerful reminder of the importance of embracing our place in the natural world, and the beauty and wonder that still remain, even as the world continues to change and evolve.
Editor 2 Analysis and Explanation
The Beauty of Slow and Steady: An Analysis of Mary Oliver's "Turtle"
Mary Oliver's poem "Turtle" is a beautiful and thought-provoking piece that explores the nature of life and the importance of taking things slow. Through vivid imagery and powerful metaphors, Oliver paints a picture of a world where the slow and steady pace of the turtle is celebrated and revered. In this article, we will take a closer look at the poem and explore its themes, symbolism, and meaning.
Before we dive into the analysis, let's take a moment to read the poem in its entirety:
Turtle Now I see it-- it nudges with its bulldog head the slippery stems of the lilies, making them tremble; and now it noses along in the wake of the little brown teal who is leading her soft children from the one shabby pond to the other, and lo, they are all on the opposite shore. I am not a scientist. I know the difference between bracken and fern. I know the boiling point of water. But I do not know enough about the world. Certainly I have seen it all, heard it all, been amazed at it all. I have seen the foxes go by in the night. I have seen the geese in their terrible flight. But I have not yet seen the owl, that white one with the black wings, that carries in its claws the just caught mouse. Oh, hurry up, hurry up, I thought, happily, and turned the car onto the rough lane. I did not stop for the pickerel or the spotted salamander, for the difficult nothing of the stars. It was spring, and the air so damp you could hear it breathing. I went to the door and called the dog. We went into the woods. The turtle had just emerged from the leaves and was beginning to cross the path. I took it up and carried it to the pond. It never looked back.
At its core, "Turtle" is a poem about the beauty of slow and steady progress. The turtle, with its bulldog head and slow, deliberate movements, is a symbol of patience and perseverance. In a world that values speed and efficiency above all else, the turtle serves as a reminder that sometimes the best things in life take time.
Another theme that runs throughout the poem is the idea of interconnectedness. The turtle is not alone in its journey; it is accompanied by the little brown teal and her soft children. The speaker of the poem also mentions the foxes and the geese, highlighting the fact that all living things are connected and dependent on one another.
Finally, "Turtle" is a poem about the beauty of nature. Oliver's vivid descriptions of the lilies, the teal, and the turtle itself paint a picture of a world that is both awe-inspiring and fragile. The speaker of the poem is in awe of the natural world, but also recognizes that there is much she does not know or understand.
One of the most powerful symbols in "Turtle" is the turtle itself. As mentioned earlier, the turtle represents patience and perseverance. Its slow, deliberate movements are a reminder that sometimes the best things in life take time. The turtle is also a symbol of longevity and wisdom. In many cultures, turtles are seen as symbols of good luck and prosperity.
The little brown teal and her soft children are also important symbols in the poem. They represent the interconnectedness of all living things. The teal is leading her children from one pond to another, and the turtle is following along in their wake. This image is a powerful reminder that all living things are connected and dependent on one another.
Finally, the natural world itself is a powerful symbol in "Turtle." The lilies, the foxes, the geese, and the stars all represent the beauty and fragility of nature. The speaker of the poem is in awe of the natural world, but also recognizes that it is a complex and mysterious place.
At its core, "Turtle" is a poem about the importance of taking things slow and appreciating the beauty of the natural world. The turtle, with its slow and deliberate movements, represents the value of patience and perseverance. The little brown teal and her soft children represent the interconnectedness of all living things, and the natural world itself is a powerful symbol of the beauty and fragility of life.
But "Turtle" is also a poem about the limitations of human understanding. The speaker of the poem admits that she does not know enough about the world, despite having seen and heard so much. This is a reminder that there is always more to learn and discover, and that the natural world is a complex and mysterious place.
In the end, "Turtle" is a celebration of the slow and steady pace of life, and a reminder to take the time to appreciate the beauty of the world around us.
Mary Oliver's "Turtle" is a beautiful and thought-provoking poem that explores the nature of life and the importance of taking things slow. Through vivid imagery and powerful metaphors, Oliver paints a picture of a world where the slow and steady pace of the turtle is celebrated and revered. The poem is a reminder to appreciate the beauty of the natural world and to take the time to learn and discover all that it has to offer.
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