How can I summarize the poem "Death of a Bird"?

In "Death of a Bird,"  the speaker at first makes it clear the bird is near death and explains the bird's memories and feelings of past migrations. Now, the bird is becoming frail, and she struggles to complete this migration, both physically and mentally. The landscape is unsympathetic to her aging state, and she dies as just another number to the earth; however, the speaker writes about the bird as an individual, which instead, implies that she is more than just a number. 


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When we summarize, we attempt to condense many words to a few while still trying to capture the major events of a text.  Thus, one might summarize "The Death of the Bird" as follows:

For each bird, seemingly symbolic of human individuals, there is a final migration.  The bird feels the urge to move again to warmer places; she feels drawn to another place that is also home.  Once there, she tends her brood and remembers what she has left behind.  Though it is lovely in this warmer place, the bird feels the pull of her other home again, a little more each day.  She must go.

The bird is small, insignificant, and weak.  On her last migration, she loses her sense of where to go and how to get there.  She tries to continue, but the way is no longer clear to her and the landscape seems suddenly foreign.  She flies in darkness, tossed about by uncaring winds, until finally, inevitably, she dies.  The earth is so great, and she so small, that her death is but a "tiny burden."

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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. 

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