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What is the moral lesson of the poem To a Waterfowl by William Cullen Bryant?  

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nylari | Student, Grade 9 | eNotes Newbie

Posted January 4, 2010 at 6:54 PM via web

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What is the moral lesson of the poem To a Waterfowl by William Cullen Bryant?

 

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coachingcorner | High School Teacher | (Level 3) Educator

Posted January 4, 2010 at 7:07 PM (Answer #1)

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In the poem 'To a Waterfowl' by the poet William Cullen Bryant, the writer takes comfort from the presence of a kindly omnipotent 'being' (his God) in the face of the challenges ahead - a lonely path to independence and finding his way in the world. He watches the stoic and trusting flight of a small duck as its fades into a tiny speck on the horizon and takes comfort from what he perceives to be its trust in God. He wonders where it is going and speculates that it might be the 'plashy' edges of reed bed, lake or foreign shore and is amazed at the distance these small birds travel every year in search of warmer climes. He finishes the poem more invigorated and more optimistic about the future - with a lesson to be more trusting in God.

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pohnpei397 | College Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

Posted January 4, 2010 at 10:41 PM (Answer #2)

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I agree with the first answerer that hers is a moral lesson that you can draw from this poem.  I draw a slightly different one.

To me, the lesson here is that you should trust in yourself and do what you think is right.  It is a statement of individualism.  The waterfowl in the poem does not need to be in a flock like one of the geese that fly over my house every late fall and spring.  In the poem, the bird is by itself but it will still get to where it needs to be.

I totally agree that the poem is saying that you should trust in God.  But I think it is saying that you should trust in your own moral sense and your own ideas.  They are given to you by God and they (not the flock of other people) will bring you to the right place in the end.

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