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“A Bird, came down the Walk”: Critical Detailed Analysis And Summary

Emily Dickinson is a well-known American poet. The poem “A Bird came down the Walk” was first published in 1891 in Emily Dickinson’s second collection. She wonderfully portrays her connection with nature and tries to unite forming a fruitful connection between the prey and the predator.

Dickenson has successfully depicted the beauty and mercilessness of nature along with its delicate and sublime equanimity between the magnificent and ferocious.

Summary

Dickinson in her poem “A Bird, came down the Walk” proves that it is not mandatory to travel or live a life abounding of romantic grandeur to write an astonishing verse. A simple accession of a bird prancing down a trial also beholds the capability to awaken the spirit of Emily Dickinson to write an aesthetic piece.

The poem begins with an appearance of a bird in her front flying and the bird was unaware of the fact that it is being noticed by humankind. The bird ferociously kills an earthworm and ate it raw without being sympathetic towards it. The bird had to kill it to meet his hunger. Then initially he drank a drop of dew from the grass and rushed towards the facade to chase a beetle.

The eyes of the bird darted throughout its surroundings which looked like a frightening spherule. Dickenson moves ahead and offers a crumb to the bird. Turning his soft head as if he is in danger willfully ignoring the offerings of the author, he broadens his wings and flies away to secure his life.

Eventually, the speaker is afraid as the little creature is about to flee. Nature fails at the end after attempting reconciliation with the speaker.

He is only concerned with his life and slowly Dickenson finds him flying away. The bird willingly departs into the deep sea where every motion appears to be seamless.

While taking the flight his wings looked more tender and delicate as they moved softly through the breeze than the oars that submerge into the sea without accomplishing any undulation or even the butterflies that ascend into the atmosphere at noontide and swim through the heavens without creating a plash.

The concluding lines of the poem “A Bird came down the Walk” shows the glorious jumping of butterflies on the majestic hot sand into the wet impudence on the celestial sphere. Thus, Dickenson successfully upholds a world of glorious perfection.

Analysis

Emily Dickinson in her poem “A Bird, came down the Walk” addresses the limitations of the ecosphere exposing the cruelty and attitude of humankind towards the natural habitat and animal life.

She elaborates on the elegant movements of a bird while he decides to take flight, the speaker offers him a crumb and he willfully ignores it as he has nothing to do with the presence of humans. Thus, the bird chooses to leave the place.

She stretches a contrast between the benevolent behaviour of nature with the unmerciful characteristics of nature. Dickenson undergoes two types of the essence.

She has a constant sense of belonging for its pure and earthly aroma which erases all her anxiety refilling it with zest and intensity on the other hand she endures a sense of alienation due to the differentiation of strength and power between animals and humans. In the poem, nature has been represented as barbarous.

She introduces an ‘Angleworm’ in her vivid imagery which was bitten “in halves” very ferociously by a bird. It was the bird’s basic need for survival as a result the bird had to chase and behave fiercely with other instincts.

Similarly, in the poem the snake a “Narrow Fellow” is referred to as a malevolent creature that is lying in the grass.

The terror of being “zero at the bone” or incapacitated by its venom enables nature to become a treacherous baleful sinister. It upholds the brutality of the living cosmos driven by the cruel relationship of predator and prey where no hope of survival exists. But she also depicts the beauty and elegance of nature side by side.

The last two stanzas describe the bird flying far away which is more soothing and ‘softer’ to sight than the ‘oars’ dividing the ocean consciously.

The sight of the bird flying away naturally is certainly relaxing and beautiful rather than vessel oars that formulate ripples in the stream. Thus, it implies that natural beauty is always purer and more aesthetic to stare upon compared to manmade creations which include oars and boats.

Dickenson successfully invokes the enjambment in the poem enabling the stage of relaxation for the readers. The imagery of a bird flying away independently along with the portrayal of the harmonization of the water supports the concept of nature being delightful. The snake referred to as the “Narrow Fellow” in the grass divides the field like “a comb”.

Such a picture depicts the harmless attributes suggesting the elegant qualities that nature beholds.

Dickenson also presents the other side of nature explaining the difference between the behaviour of humankind and the animals suggesting that the nature that an animal possesses is moderate which involved the negligence of extremes just after preying on ‘Angleworm’, the bird prefers to avoid the crumb or beetle.

Such sort of expression creates a contrast with the immoderate nature of human beings. Humans persist in a mind which is feeble due to which it fails to understand the concept of perpetuity and ‘eternity’ but the desire to acquire more have no limitations. Dickinson is trying to portray the need of a human being.

Humans are never happy no matter how much they possess, they have a unique characteristic that constantly needs more for survival whereas animals for their survival focus on the essentials and this separates humans from animals. There are various psychological distinctions between humans and animals as well.

Animals in their habitat live involuntarily. Generally, a bird “stirs its head” to protect oneself from the hand of predators but human beings have more challenging needs like emotional, virtuous, and cognitive needs which animals do not bother about.

Generally, a bird “stirs its head” to protect oneself from the hand of predators but human beings have more challenging needs like emotional, virtuous, and cognitive needs which animals do not bother about.

The only thing they focus on is their survival. The degradation of the mind takes place when human beings fail to attain such psychological needs which further separates humankind from animals. She willingly refers to the ‘Angleworm’ as ‘fellow’ which depicts that she is a part of that nature that is surrounding her refilling her mind with purity.

Although human characteristics are different from animals, Dickenson still finds the similarity as all of them are the components of the earthly sphere be it animals or human beings.

Dickenson in the end tries to unite both predators and prey which is also very relaxing for the readers to read. She initiates a sense of affinity in the poem for the protagonist.

The bird is seen coming down and allows the “Beetle pass”. Such civilized expression is generally associated with human beings. Thus, the personification of nature takes place. As Dickenson notices such relatable human attributes, she starts imagining herself as a part of the elegant and delicate sphere.

Death is also a natural phenomenon within nature which is necessary but she also expresses agony and feels sympathetic for the poor ‘Angleworm’ who had to undergo such a cruel attack finally leading to death and being eaten ‘raw’ by the bird.

She also considers this as a part of survival as the secondary and tertiary consumers depend on other instincts to meet their hunger.

Thus, death is necessary to maintain a balance within the natural domain. Everything which is organic tends to die and so nature appreciates it when it witnesses someone dying.

Nature for Dickenson is civil, pure, elegant as well as treacherous, cruel, and sinister. She prefers to uphold such discussion usually when she feels isolated and her sense of belonging and attachment to that the aesthetic sphere is constant as it successfully unwraps all her anxieties.

Structure

The poem “A Bird, came down the Walk”, by Emily Dickinson with her artistic quality forms five astonishing stanzas that are again separated into sets of four lines.  She tactfully incorporates quatrains to give a remarkable structure to her piece. Each stanza stretches a connection between the second line with that of the fourth line.

The second, fourth, and first lines are designed carefully with the help of syllables and stretching a poetical form in line number eight is again structurally connected through syllables and line number six is comprised of syllables that are eventually interconnected with iambic-triameter.

Theme

The Purity and Cruelty of Nature

Nature is comprised of both beauty and serenity and according to speaker the human beings are equally a part of such aesthetic beauty and risk just like animals.

The speaker of the poem “A Bird, came down the Walk” stares at the bird with enchantment but it scared the creature by offering the animal a crumb to eat. Such an imaginative meeting of the bird enables the speaker to rise in wonderment but it only made both the bird and the speaker a bit nervous.

The speaker encounters a bird that hopped in front of her walk which is marked as a sign of danger as she found the bird ferociously biting a worm tearing it apart and eating the worm. The speaker undergoes a sense of discomfort after witnessing the entire scenario but the bird does it to meet his hunger pangs.

The speaker tends to feel pity for the little worm who had to undertake such tremendous pain as the bird bounced upon it so cruelly providing a concept of nature being brutal towards poor creatures like the worm. Nature seems to be extremely brutal. In reverse bird is not only a predator but also prey.

Its eyes are like “frightened beads” which portrays his anxiety as birds eat worms and cats beholds the capability to tear a bird and devour them ruthlessly. Thus, when the speaker of the poem offered him a crumb then the bird eventually flies away to secure his life.

Similarly, the speaker also feels disgusted for scaring the little animal. But she was truly fascinated by his beauty and charm.

She carefully notices his “velvet head” and while the bird takes flight, the little motion of the wings seems to be so relaxing that she keeps on staring at the creature.

The way the bird hops aside in a courteous manner magnificently allowing the beetle to pass depicts his demeanour just like a gentleman which is indeed glorious to behold. The speaker with her artistic imaginative thoughts compares the flight of the bird to that of butterflies, boats, and oars which moves ‘plashless’.

Bird chooses to fly away far above the ecosphere enthralling his body with the cool breeze refilling his mind and soul with the elegant beauty of nature. Hence nature has successfully portrayed the steadiness of elegance and brutality.

The enjoyment of the speaker while staring at his delicate figure is different from the discomfort that she was undergoing while the bird was mercilessly killing the bird.

Although he was enthralled by the elegant beauty of the bird but also nervous as she witnessed his ruthless appearance. Such an unusual balance between fear and admiration unites both the speaker of Emily Dickinson’s poem and the bird in an astounding mien.

FAQs

What are the themes of Emily Dickinson’s poem ‘A Bird came down the Walk’?

Emily Dickinson has stretched several magnificent themes that behold the capability to enthrall a person’s mind and soul. Major themes like human connectivity with the natural world and nature’s cruelty and beauty. The poem wonderfully begins with a bird coming down to feed his hunger and then eventually departs without initiating any harm to the terrestrial sphere.

What does the last stanza in the poem depict?

The last stanza has been ta tactfully designed by Emily Dickinson. She incorporates metaphor explaining how delicate the movements of the wings appear when the bird unfolds its feathers and flies through the air feeling the aesthetic cool breeze and slowly refilling his mind and soul with positivity.

She describes this entire procedure which appears to the speaker quite similar to that of oars steadily dividing an ocean.

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