As the groundhog goes through its own metamorphosis, the speaker experiences a transmutation, which affects his emotions and actions towards the animal corpse.
The orator's world was like Eden, bursting in all of its heaven-like beauty. However, the rotting presence of the corpse lying there aloofly greatly impacted him. The groundhog is a disturbance within the norms of the speaker's world. His "senses shook" at the site of the decaying entity. It perturbed him to see something dying amidst so much life and vigor. It incurred a fear within that he too lived a mortal life that would eventually come to an end and that it might be just as insignificant as the groundhog's, whose body was only found upon a random trek in the fields. The fear of insignificance unleashed an anger unto which the speaker acted upon with his stick, poking the innocent corpse. The speaker dreaded dying in a place where he might be just as unimportant as the groundhog that lay before him.
After inutile prodding, a revelation dawned upon the man that no blame was to be laid upon this entity. It was going through a process that was natural and could not be helped. All things mortal would face this phase sooner or later. After the epiphany, the speaker "bent down" on his knees, showing respect for the groundhog and the path it has come to. As time passed, the speaker did not harbor those feelings of resentment towards the groundhog. Each time he came to see the dead creature, he saw that, like him, it had gone under a series of major changes that made it a contradiction between discernible and not. At one point one can identify what the corpse use to be, and yet at times its distinctiveness becomes a question of intrigue. The second and third time he visited the groundhog; the speaker realized he had " lost both love and loathing" emotions for it. In the next summer, he observed it's "bones bleaching in the sunlight", showing his growing appreciation for the beauty the groundhog had, both in life and in death, and the positive impact that it had on him. His own emotions before were that of anger, but gradually as he grew to understand the on going process, his emotions became more empathetic to the conditions of how life is. Three years after the initial visit, the man chances upon the same spot only to find that in the creature's corpse's absence he has found a reaffirm belief in his own mortality.
The speaker has come to the acceptance of his mortal life and that it is natural process of death.