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When I Die by Merritt Malloy: A Poem Analysis

Merritt Malloy is an American poet whose works have been recognized by many people and even become considered legendary. She is the author of an epitaph poem called When I Die. The epitaph means that the work was written in honor of the memory of someone who once died. In his career, the author expresses his feelings towards a person who is no longer around. Epitaphs describe the author’s particular attitude to the deceased person, and it is often read at memorial services or funerals. This poem was chosen for analysis because it still has a specific energy and deep meaning even though it is short.

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From the poem, it can be understood that the author wants people not to suffer for the deceased but to pay more attention to those who are still alive and nearby. The author writes: “When I die give what’s left of me away to children and old men that wait to die” (Merritt 1). This paragraph indicates that the author gives direct instructions about what people should do in case of death. That is, people should provide their physical bodies to those who need them. This is the benefit of a person’s death, that is, in helping other people.

With her appeal, the author wants people not to waste their time in tears and suffer for a deceased person. They should exclude their grief and direct it to the benefit of other people who now need help more than the dead. That is, the author demonstrates that there are more important things than death, namely people who are currently suffering. The author expresses her disinterested view of death and wants people to realize that even something positive can be taken out of death.

The poem also explains why such an attitude to death is formed. The dead can leave behind something good, “Something better than words or sounds” (Merritt 14). That is, people can provide their bodies and thereby save those who are suffering and inspire other people with their benevolence. The author believes that people are no longer a physical shell after their death but begin to live in their hearts and eyes. People who will allow their bodies to continue to live helping others even after death will make good intentions and make the world a better place.

The author wants people to share their love and thereby improve the world in which they live. With their poems about death, some people seek to demonstrate the pain of losing a loved one (Stroebe, 2018). In poetry, on the contrary, it is shown that there should be no pain and suffering since the deceased can be helpful to those people who are still alive. She also wants people to communicate with each other and inspire each other to keep in touch and be one. The love between people can be preserved because they not only mourn their loved ones who have died but also give other people who sincerely need their help hope for life. The author encourages her readers to share love and make the world a better place.

The poem reveals quite a lot of different themes. For example, the theme of love, suffering, the memory of the dead. They are shown through the fact that the author encourages people not to suffer over their loved ones but to allow living people to save their lives and thereby share their love. Often poetry involves the use of various related themes to demonstrate the full depth of the work (Navarro-Colorado 2).Worrying and suffering over the deceased no longer makes deep sense, like the fact that right now, there are people who need love and experiences more. This is what makes love truly meaningful and sincere, and this is how people should show their love and humanity.

Malloy does not use a specific structure for writing her work; that is, each paragraph has a different number of lines. In addition, the poet uses a particular intonation and syntax, thereby giving his work an ordinary conversational tone. She addresses death as a regular person and expresses herself in clear and as simple words as possible. The author has no fantasies about death, but she has specific thoughts about how to treat people who are dead.

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In conclusion, Merritt Malloy wrote a poem with profound meaning and is not similar to the poetry of other authors. This work, despite all its general gloominess due to the raised theme of death, is bright and cheerful. This is because the author wants to show people how meaningful the lives of people are, and that people can share their love even after death. It is the theme of love that is one of the central themes in this work. In addition, the author urges to keep the memory of the dead not by their physical shell but in their hearts. This kind of love that can be recognized as pure and bright. Moreover, the author does not believe that death is something terrible or negative because it, like life, can have its own unique benefits.

Works Cited

Malloy, Merritt. When I Die. The People Who Didn’t Say Goodbye, 1985.

Navarro-Colorado, Borja. “On Poetic Topic Modeling: Extracting Themes and Motifs From a Corpus of Spanish Poetry.” Frontiers in Digital Humanities, vol. 5, no. 15, 2018, pp. 1-12. Web.

Stroebe, Margaret. “Poetry of Grief: Beyond Scientific Portrayal.” Journal of Death and Dying, vol. 78, no. 1, 2018, pp. 67-96. Web.

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StudyCorgi. 2022. "When I Die by Merritt Malloy: A Poem Analysis." December 11, 2022. https://studycorgi.com/when-i-die-by-merritt-malloy-a-poem-analysis/.

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StudyCorgi. (2022) 'When I Die by Merritt Malloy: A Poem Analysis'. 11 December.

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