This is the last part of Mary Oliver's poem "Her Grave", honoring the poet's dead dog.

How strong was her dark body!
How apt is her grave place.

How beautiful is her unshakable sleep.

the slick mountains of love break
over us.

What is the meaning of this last line? I'm not sure if I can interpret it as "Finally, our love like slippery mountains fall on us."

1 Answer 1


While the word ‘mountain’ suggests the solidity of terrain, the phrase ‘breaks over us’ is more suggestive of waves crashing down.

Blending these two ideas suggests ‘mountainous seas’, or the rogue waves that form in certain sea states, huge walls of water that build up only to break and crash with devastating power. https://www.boredpanda.com/wave-photography-ray-collins/?utm_source=google&utm_medium=organic&utm_campaign=organic

Therefore I would interpret the line as describing how the sea of love they have for the dog is being piled up by the storm of their grief and its crashing and ‘breaking over them’ describes the pain of their loss, but perhaps also the knowledge that this will pass and they will come to calmer seas again.

  • 1
    Brilliant and profound interpretation. Thank you so much.
    – blanclove
    Commented Dec 18, 2020 at 3:03

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