Trying to determine the exact definition of the term "allusion" found in song lyrics. My daughter chose the first stanza of "Bird Song" by Heather Masse: I hear a bird chirping, up in the sky/ I'd...

Trying to determine the exact definition of the term "allusion" found in song lyrics. My daughter chose the first stanza of "Bird Song" by Heather Masse:

I hear a bird chirping, up in the sky/ I'd like to be free like that spread my wings so high

I think the reference is simply about the bird being free and flying high, but I'm not certain. Isn't an allusion simply just a reference?

Asked on by summer47

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Ashley Kannan | Middle School Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

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An allusion can be seen as a reference.  It is a reference to an external element.  An allusion is a tool that the writer uses to activate the imagination of the reader.  In Heather Masse's song, "Bird Song," the allusion is a reference to the natural condition of freedom intrinsic to birds. The song's opening lyrics help to establish this reference:

I hear a bird chirping, up in the sky
I'd like to be free like that spread my wings so high
 
The allusion is a connection to the freedom that birds represents.  Masse alludes to the natural condition of freedom that birds possess.  The allusion to the freedom in the natural and organic setting of the world is seen in the song's subsequent lyrics.  Masse alludes to such a condition in her descriptions of "river flowing water running by" and "the living earth the seeds that grow within."  The allusions are to a condition of natural freedom and limitless potential. The natural allusions that Masse employs help to enhance freedom and possibility of being in the world.  Songwriters use allusions in their songs to capture a feeling or sensibility that they experience which can immediately connect to the listener.  It is this allusion that can be seen in Masse's song lyrics.
 
Masse takes this approach to creating music and the creative process, in general.  In creating the album, also entitled Bird Song, Masse's understanding of artistic creation helps to enhance the allusions of freedom she employs in the title track:
 It's my first original full-length solo album and it was a real journey in the making. Through the process of writing the songs, recording, and then hearing them come to life, I learned so much about myself. The experience in the studio was incredibly collaborative, and I loved sharing the creative process of producing the album with Kent and my band.
Masse sees art as a "journey" and being able to reflectively sojourn within are all a part of the experience of being in the world. This creative process in which there is a sense of boundless energy and limitless freedom are intrinsic to both Masse's writing in "Bird Song," and help to explain the allusions or references that are made. They are deliberate.  They wish to link her own subjective experience with the listener's understanding.  In making such a connection or allusion, Masse is able to connect with the audience, who in turn can connect with her. The allusion in the opening of the song is a reference to the freedom of the bird.  It is a reference to the experience of transcending limits and constraints. 
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