Australian poet A.D Hope's "The Death of the Bird" deals with aging and death, using a bird in migration as the overarching metaphor.
The first line signals the theme of the poem:
"For every bird there is this last migration..."
The line tells us, for this bird, death is near, tells it without sentimentality. The heavy weight of the line foreshadows what is to follow.
The bulk of the poem introduces us to the inner life of the bird—memories, sensations she has experienced year after year in the same migration she is taking now, but this year, we know, will be different. Indeed, we see the bird hasn't the stamina or faculties she once had.
"Single and frail, uncertain of her place, Alone in the bright host of her companions, Lost in the blue unfriendliness of space."
Finally darkness overtakes the flying flock, and she is no longer able to maintain her flight. Strong winds overcome her, and she falls to her death.
The last lines of the poem summon up the poet's view of the bird's life—in remorseless nature, the passing of the life of a bird is received "without grief or malice," but simply as another of the numberless lives and deaths inhabiting the earth every day.
Yet, the tenderness with which the author presents the life of the bird belies this. The poem itself individualizes the bird, and therefore gives great dignity to its existence.