Topics for Collaborative Discussion

Mary Oliver: Analyzing "The Sun"

Read "The Sun" by Mary Oliver and answer the following questions:

  • Do you think this is a fitting title for the poem? Why or why not? If you had to retitle this poem, what might you call it?
  • Who is the speaker in this poem? Explain how you arrived at your answer.
  • Are there any parts of the poem that you find difficult to understand? If so, what are they? Do you have any ideas about their meaning?
  • Identify the major themes and ideas in the poem. How does the speaker allude to them?

Once you have posted your response, read the responses posted by your peers and reply thoughtfully to at least 2 other students. Compliment strong points, answer questions about the poem's meaning, and build on ideas shared!

The Sun 

by Mary Oliver


Have you ever seen
in your life
more wonderful


than the way the sun,
every evening,
relaxed and easy,
floats toward the horizon


and into the clouds or the hills,
or the rumpled sea,
and is gone--
and how it slides again


out of the blackness,
every morning,
on the other side of the world,
like a red flower


streaming upward on its heavenly oils,
say, on a morning in early summer,
at its perfect imperial distance--
and have you ever felt for anything

such wild love--
do you think there is anywhere, in any language,
a word billowing enough
for the pleasure


that fills you,
as the sun
reaches out,
as it warms you


as you stand there,
or have you too
turned from this world--


or have you too
gone crazy
for power,
for things?


English & Language Arts,

Grade Levels

Grades 11-12, Grades 9-10, Grades 7-8,


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