Even nature amuses Emily Dickinson!. Have you heard the one about the bird?. A bird came down the walk. 22 nd January 2014. You might want to keep an eye on www.emilydickinsonresources.weebly.com.
Have you heard the one about the bird?
22nd January 2014
A Bird came down the walk -He did not know I saw - He bit an Angle-worm in halvesAnd ate the fellow, raw.And then he drank a DewFrom a convenient Grass-And then hopped sidewise to the WallTo let a Beetle pass -He glanced with rapid eyesThat hurried all around-They looked like frightened Beads, I thought -He stirred his Velvet HeadLike one in danger; Cautious,I offered him a CrumbAnd he unrolled his feathersAnd rowed him softer home -Than Oars divide the Ocean,Too silver for a seam -Or Butterflies, off Banks of Noon,Leap, plashless, as they swim.
It almost sounds human – there is a sense that it is behaving in a civilised fashion
Its behaviour is natural as it does not realise it is being observed.
A Bird came down the walk -He did not know I saw - He bit an Angle-worm in halvesAnd ate the fellow, raw.
‘Raw’ seems to be an unusual word to use – we would not expect the bird to cook it! This perhaps ties in with the civilised attitude suggested by the first line. On the other hand, it could show the cruelty of nature.
An angleworm is any type of worm (such as an earthworm) that is used for fishing bait.
And then he drank a DewFrom a convenient Grass -And then hopped sidewise to the WallTo let a Beetle pass -
Does he hop sideways because he is ‘polite’ or is he startled by the beetle?
Note how overall the theme is far more simplistic than previous poems. It focus far more on straightforward ideas.
Again, we see human behaviour. mannerisms.
Dashes suggest a pause for her to introduce her thoughts.
He glanced with rapid eyesThat hurried all around -They looked like frightened Beads, I thought -He stirred his Velvet Head
Poetic image shows her opinion/feelings.
Notice how this stanza clearly leads us on to the next – there is no pause. Previous stanzas have been self contained units.
Continuation from previous stanza. Sense of danger – does this tie into Dickinson’s own feelings?
Who is cautious – her or the bird?
Like one in danger; Cautious,I offered him a CrumbAnd he unrolled his feathersAnd rowed him softer home -
The word ‘unrolled’ gives a sense of the bird opening up as it spreads its wings.
The wings are compared to oars – think about their movement. Use of the word ‘softer’ gives a suggestion of the elegance of nature.
Note how the language here is far more poetic. Once the bird takes flight it becomes a far more graceful creature and this is shown by use of alliteration. It is as if the bird only really shows its beauty when it is in flight.
The wings break through the air with greater ease than oars through water.
Than Oars divide the Ocean,Too silver for a seam -Or Butterflies, off Banks of Noon,Leap, plashless, as they swim.
What exactly are ‘Banks of Noon’?.
She suggests the bird is even more graceful than butterflies who leap and swim through the air.
“He bit an Angle-worm in halves
And ate the fellow, raw…”
Discuss ways in which Dickinson presents nature in ‘A Bird came down the Walk’.
In your answer, explore the effects of language, imagery and verse form.