The the speaker’s surroundings. Along with description of the

    The relationship between that of the speaker and the swamp in Mary Oliver’s Crossing the Swamp is on symbolic in nature as the swamp stands as the speaker’s life and crossing the swamp would be their journey through life. The poet utilizes such techniques as imagery along with syntax and diction, which contribute to tone,  to create and develop said relationship between the speaker and the swamp.    Imagery is used in the very beginning of the poem, to begin to establish the setting of the swamp as “the center of everything”, and overall create a description of the speaker’s surroundings. Along with description of the swamp through imagery, types of imagery such as pathetic fallacy is used to portray even deeper the image of the swamp. Examples of nature possessing human like actions or emotions can be seen when the speaker says “…deep hipholes, hummocks that sink silently into the black, slack earthsoup.”  Imagery is also affected by the poet’s syntax and diction, which overall contribute to the tone and the shift of tone through Crossing the Swamp.     The development of the relationship between the speaker and the swamp and therefore the speaker and their struggle in life is built through Oliver’s use of syntax and diction to create tone, specifically the shift in diction to change the tone from the beginning of the poem to the end.  At the start of the passage, the poet utilizes darker, gloomy language to create a dreary tone. The speaker says “Here is swamp, here is struggle,” allowing the reader to see that the swamp is symbolic of the speaker’s struggle, and also says “My bones knock together at the pale joints,” showing how the speaker is enduring the swamp (life), and seemingly old age. After passing through a portion of the swamp, there is a shift in diction where the speaker says ” I feel not wet so much as painted and glittered” as he has now endured his struggles and is experiencing a better life. After the shift, the poet uses words and phrases with more positive connotation such as “rich” , and “succulent”, saying in lines 28 through 36 that the speaker started as ” a poor dry stick” and through years of hard work was able to “take root, sprout, branch out, bud make of its life a breathing palace of leaves.” The relationship between the speaker and the swamp is on equivalent to life’s struggles, and personal growth. 


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