Critical Analysis of 'A Bird came down the Walk'
In 'A Bird came down the Walk-', nature is presented in various ways. Dickinson experiences the benevolence within nature. This contrasts with the cruel and unmerciful aspects of nature that are also evident in the poem. The narrator feels a sense of belonging with nature as she observes in awe. However, at times, she feels alienated due to the differences between animals and humans.
Nature is initially presented as a brutal force. Dickinson creates vivid imagery of an 'Angleworm' being bitten 'in halves' by the bird. The bird's basic need for sustenance takes priority over its other instincts, causing it to behave mercilessly towards its prey. Similarly, in 'A Narrow Fellow in the Grass', the snake is portrayed as a malevolent character. The fear of being 'zero at the bone' or paralysed by its venom presents nature as a threatening, ominous force. This demonstrates the brutality of the natural world through predator-prey relationships, driven by the desire to survive. Dickinson identifies this as the cruel and evil aspect of nature.
The beauty of nature is also evident in this poem. The final two stanzas describe the bird flying away. This sight is 'softer' or more relaxing than the 'oars' that 'divide' the ocean. As the comparative 'softer' is used, it suggests that the natural sight of a bird flying is more beautiful than boat oars that create gentle ripples in the water. This implies natural beauty surpasses manmade beauty, as oars and boats are manmade. Use of enjambment creates a relaxed tone. This harmonises with the water effect of the 'ocean' and the tranquil image of a bird flying away, which supports the idea of nature being beautiful. Similarly, in 'A Narrow Fellow in the Grass', the snake 'divides' the grass like 'a comb'. The effect of this simile is that it creates a gentle, harmless image. This also suggests that nature possesses tranquil and beautiful qualities.
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