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A Bird Came Down The Walk By Emily Dickinson

2178 words - 9 pages

“A Bird came down the Walk,” was written in c. 1862 by Emily Dickinson, who was born in 1830 and died in 1886. This easy to understand and timeless poem provides readers with an understanding of the author’s appreciation for nature. Although the poem continues to be read over one hundred years after it was written, there is little sense of the time period within which it was composed. The title and first line, “A Bird came down the Walk,” describes a common familiar observation, but even more so, it demonstrates how its author’s creative ability and artistic use of words are able to transform this everyday event into a picture that results in an awareness of how the beauty in nature can be found in simple observations. In a step like narrative, the poet illustrates the direct relationship between nature and humans. The verse consists of five stanzas that can be broken up into two sections. In the first section, the bird is eating a worm, takes notice of a human in close proximity and essentially becomes frightened. These three stanzas can easily be swapped around because they, for all intents and purposes, describe three events that are able to occur in any order. Dickinson uses these first three stanzas to establish the tone; the tone is established from the poet’s literal description and her interpretive expression of the bird’s actions. The second section describes the narrator feeding the bird some crumbs, the bird’s response and its departure, which Dickinson uses to elaborately illustrate the bird’s immediate escape. The last two stanzas demonstrate the effect of human interaction on nature and more specifically, this little bird, so these stanzas must remain in the specific order they are presented. Whereas most people do not find beauty in birds eating worms, Dickinson’s use of literary devices contributes to the poem’s greater meaning. In this poem, Dickinson turns a common observation into exquisitely illustrated poem through her use of tone, imagery and sound. Her skill of observation and her ability to artistically describe its occurrence is reflected in this universal and ageless poem.
The theme of the poem is the effect of humans on nature as describe by a poet with an obvious respect for it. Initially, the narrator is merely observing a bird as it is hopping down the walk. Her keen surveillance is expressed from the start in, “He did not know I saw” (line 2). Neither interfering, nor ignoring, the narrator presents just the facts, for example, the bird bit a worm in half, ate it, took a drink, and allowed a beetle to pass. Immediately, the reader is also aware that the narrator is present in and is literally describing each of the bird’s actions. The turning point does not occur until line 14 when the narrator is no longer just observing, but intervenes and offers the bird some food. The human’s offering frightens the bird and it immediately flies away. This cause and effect, or how the human interaction creates...

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