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What is Emily Dickinson trying to convey about the bird, and how does she go about...

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saramsey | Student, Undergraduate | eNotes Newbie

Posted July 12, 2011 at 1:24 AM via web

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What is Emily Dickinson trying to convey about the bird, and how does she go about doing it in her poem "A Bird Came Down the Walk?"

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vmoriarity | Middle School Teacher | (Level 3) Adjunct Educator

Posted July 16, 2011 at 7:06 AM (Answer #1)

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Emily Dickinson's "A Bird Came Down the Walk" conveys the danger and the freedom a bird feels in the wild.  While the bird is clearly anxious throughout the poem, its sudden flight shows the reader how it allows the bird to enjoy complete freedom and joy.

In the first stanza, the bird lands on a sidewalk.  To me, the sidewalk represents society, civilization.  Being a wild bird, it did what was normal for it -- "bit an angle-worm in halves/and ate the fellow, raw."  The last two lines in this stanza demonstrate the visciousness required to survive in nature.

The second stanza suggests how civilized society allows one to relax. The bird "drank a dew from a convenient grass."  Water, a necessity for survival, is now easy for this bird to acquire.  Interestingly enough, the bird then moves out of the way of a beetle.  I am not sure whether a bird would normally eat a beetle, however, the fact it hops aside "to let the beetle pass" indicates manners, something society expects.  It is possible that Dickinson is pointing out how a civilized society allows its inhabitants the ability to be kinder?

However in the third stanza, the bird is still wary, ready for danger.  Its eyes are compared to "beads" and dart about the surrounding with "rapid" movements.  This entire stanza again shows the bird's wild side. It almost seems as if the bird relaxed for a second then decided it had better keep its guard up.

When the speaker attempts to give the bird a "crumb," the bird flies away its wings cut throught air.  This motion is compared to oars slicing through water and butterflies swimming through the noontime air.  Both similes illustrate the beauty and freedom of this bird in flight.  Interestingly enough, if the bird was not wild, this type of motion would probably not take place.

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keshavmwd14 | Student , Grade 9 | Salutatorian

Posted January 9, 2012 at 11:45 PM (Answer #2)

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In short the poet is trying to identify the nature of a bird that just sat on her frontyard where the frontyard refers to the "walk".

(This Answer Has Been Told By My English Teacher )

 

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