December is Emily Dickinson’s month! That is why we take the time, to publish as many poems written by this American poetess as we can. This is Poem 359 otherwise known as A Bird, came down the Walk.
On December 10, 1830, this poetess was born in the town of Amherst, Massachusetts. Because we see that the poems of Dickinson are appreciated by so many, we decided to commemorate this poetess.
A simple observation by Emily Dickinson. A bird that walks around her house. This is not just an observation. She combines this observation, with nature as the bird is part of nature. This is Dickinson that was able to make even the most common anything but common.
The bird seems to spot a worm and captures it. This is a metaphor for violence. The bird splits the worm into halves and this is a reference to the violence that is unnoticed. You can interpret these words as a reference to the violence in nature or the way we use violence; we humans.
The water the birds drinks from is that of the dew in the grass. This indicates, that her observation is done in the morning. From there on, the bird doesn’t harm the beetle that passes by. Another metaphor: nature doesn’t seem to be as cruel as we think. Let’s assume this is the peaceful coexistence we humans should take notice to. Unfortunately, she isn’t able to protect the bird from two enemies: humans and animals that see this bird as their prey. That is why this bird takes caution when moving.
In her last stanza, Dickinson introduces the ocean as a metaphor. Rowing blades or oars are the wings of the bird. They row through the ocean. The ocean isn’t the ocean as we know it; this is a metaphor for the sky. The sky is another metaphor; its freedom and the delicacy that is part of life.
In a way, this poem is also a tribute to birds. In the last part of the poem, Dickinson took the time to tell us more about the beauty of birds in flight and compares that to the beauty of butterflies. But, she goes a step further: when birds fly, this is even more delicate than butterflies.
These stanzas – five – are written in the typical Dickinson style. Written mostly in iambic trimester and based on a rhyme scheme ABCB. Yes, she describes beauty, but the poem is in fact beauty too!
Poem 359: “A Bird, came down the Walk”
A Bird, came down the Walk –
He did not know I saw –
He bit an Angle Worm in halves
And ate the fellow, raw,
And then, he drank a Dew
From a convenient Grass –
And then hopped sidewise to the Wall
To let a Beetle pass –
He glanced with rapid eyes,
That hurried all abroad –
They looked like frightened Beads, I thought,
He stirred his Velvet Head. –
Like one in danger, Cautious,
I offered him a Crumb,
And he unrolled his feathers,
And rowed him softer Home –
Than Oars divide the Ocean,
Too silver for a seam,
Or Butterflies, off Banks of Noon,
Leap, plashless as they swim.