Major Themes of the Poem, The Bird Came Down the Walk by Emily Dickinson

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In this post we will be discussing on two major themes: curiosity and the beauty of nature in the poem A Bird Came Down the Walk by Emily Dickinson who was an American poet with immense creativity. She uses simple language in subtle and unusual way and see great significance in simple and everyday happenings and situations.

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Curiosity

The poet has extracted an ordinary incident seen in nature and has made a movie-like presentation to the reader. Here, shed does not even miss a small bit of details about the actions of the bird. This is an indication of the patience and the curiosity of the speaker as a bird watcher, which reminds the poem The Poet, Lover and Bird watcher by Nissim Ezekiel which explains the patience of a bird watcher.  She further tries to experiment on the nature extending her curiosity which may be the climax of the poem that led the bird to leave the scene.

When the reader is going through the poem, he or she may feel whether the speaker is trying to see and contrast a human through a bird or to find a lost human relationship through the bird. She anthropomorphizes the bird giving it a human quality and explores its actions as they are human. If not, she is only a curious explorer of the nature and interprets how it works showing its beauty and the wild nature in its real form.

However, the curiosity of the speaker is visible in her presentation of the details of the bird and its behaviour. She presents all the actions of the bird not missing even small detail and adds her feelings to the words in the poem. For example: The bird eating an ‘angle worm’ in ‘halves’ and eating it ‘raw’; drinking dew from a ‘convenient’ grass and hopping ‘sideways’ to let a beetle pass. shows her microscopic glance at this seemingly trivial incident.  

This is further seen when the speaker describes the bird’s head and eyes in eagle’s-eye view with vivid imageries and comparison. For example: ‘rapid eyes’ hurried all abroad, looked like ‘frightened beads’ and the way it ‘stirred’ its ‘velvet’ head. Which creates images in the reader’s mind making a close picture of the bird in its uncomfortable zone.

With all the minute details, she presents the reader to feel the curiosity of the speaker on this particular scene in nature.

Beauty of Nature   

The poet celebrates the beauty of nature using an element of nature, the bird. She shows the beauty of the bird in a natural setting and the gracefulness of the bird as well as the perfect mutual combination of natural elements.

Through the presentation of the bird in its natural setting, the poet keeps the beauty and wildness juxtaposed. For example: The bird walking down the walk like a human in a civilized manner and all the sudden, eating an angle worm. Shocking it is! nevertheless, this is exposing the nature as it is. That is the true nature of natural world and how it works. The reader has to understand that wildness behind the beauty in the world of animals. Through understanding, reader can experience the real beauty in nature. It is like: we adore the rose knowing the fact that there are thorns all over the tree and the stem – which creates no harm to the beauty of the rose.

Through the bird, the poet reveals that the nature has its own form of grace and elegance. She contrasts them with human world and actions. For example: The bird is easily having its meal and having a sip of dew from a grass nearby. It is like a person drinking wine in a glass in a comfortable chair. Further, the bird allowing a beetle to pass shows that birds also have some manners.

This close contrast between the bird and human world adds beauty to the scene making the natural world close and familiar to the world of human. The poet seems urging to show the elegance of nature showing how it may be boasting that it is no less to the grace in the world of human.

 The behaviour of the bird in its uncomfortable zone when someone is watching has created another perspective of beauty to the poem. The bird seems to be excited and restless as it is not in its comfortable zone. It is sitting on the ground not in the sky. It is again a presentation of the nature in its real form. For example: The movement of the bird’s eyes and personified behaviour mixed with its beautiful appearance is a true visual presentation which adds beauty to the poem.

The most dazzling and enchanting part comes at the end of the poem. It presents the perfect combination of the natural elements. Usage of compare and contrast of two natural settings: the sky and the sea shows the masterful use of words by Dickinson.

She has used an inanimate and animate element, the boat and the butterflies to show the perfect combination of natural elements, which is an epic portrayal of beauty and enchantment in the natural world. Emily has used the smooth movement of water and butterflies to show the union of the bird and the sky. The bird’s flight to the sky creates no disturbance in the natural wold but adds beauty and gracefulness.

Thus from this seemingly trivial incident, the poet seems to be telling us that it is unwise to interfere with Nature. Therefore, this is a poem that shows moral significance, in a seemingly trivial incident.

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