Parrot Deaths: Rite of Passage by John Kinsella

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The poem ‘Parrot Deaths: Rite of Passage’ written by John Kinsella highlights the internal struggle the speaker is experiencing through the death of the parrots. Although the action is happening physically, the struggles the parrots face are parallel to the speaker’s own mental purgatory. Colour is intensely used to convey atmosphere and character to both the parrots and the speaker. The use of first person narration, gives the poem a personal tone.

Colour and physical appearance are dominant aspects of this poem. In the first stanza, the parrots are described as possessing orange hearts, which gives the impression of success and a sense of fascination with the parrots. However the ‘sultry weather’ changes the colour of the parrots and ‘dampen[s]’ them to a dark orange, which is associated with deceit and distrust. This gives the parrots character and creates an atmosphere around them. The ‘impending’ rain and the way the clouds ‘scuttle’ the sun support the uncertainty and constraint that surround the parrots. Jumping forward to the final stanza, the parrot’s hearts are described as ‘orange, golden, and emerald’ all colours that denote prestige and possession and shows the richness of the creature. Contrasting to this, the sky is described as being full of ‘blue clouds’, which contradicts the impression of the parrots. In the second stanza, the ‘golden grain’ initially paints a picture of a unique road only to be destroyed by the way it has been ‘cull[ed]’. In the third stanza the ‘wood smoke’ creates a grim and ghostly atmosphere to again contradict the polychromatic appearance of the ’Rosellas’. By comparing the juxtaposing the opposite colours, Kinsella enables the reader to fully acknowledge the damage and death of the parrots. Up until now the birds have been painted in a joyous and carefree way, but the final parrot whose ‘eyes of silver nitrate’ charge at the semi, convey a different personality. The ‘tarnished and stained’ eyes of the parrot show...
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