Prose and Poetry, Audubon and Dillard
"What you see and hear depends a good deal on where you are standing; it also depends on what sort of person you are." That famous quote from the writer C. S. Lewis reveals the main difference between Annie Dillard's and John James Audubon's essays dealing with birds- their perspective. Dillard's comes from that of a writer and a wordsmith, contrasting with Audubon's of a noted scientist and ornithologist. In the passages, both are describing almost the same scene- watching a flock of birds cross the sky- but their portrayals of the event are disparate in how they choose to describe the birds and what effect the scene has on the writers.
A monotonous and serious tone is created by Audubon's essay through his writing strategies. He uses direct details such as his departure from "my house at Henderson, on the banks of the Ohio" and reveals his scientific train of thinking through textbook particulars like "north-east to south-west". His step by step description of his encounter with the madly flying pigeons above shows the reader how his mind functions and processes experiences. Audubon's passage consists mainly of scientific prose, but towards the end he uses certain details that portray the occurrence in a more poetic light. With the figurative language "resembled the coils of a gigantic serpent" and the phrase "extreme beauty of their aerial evolutions" he becomes more metaphorical, a key similarity with Dillard's passage. Without these ending details, Audubon's passage would not display the emotion and excitement he feels towards the spotting of this mass flight of pigeons.
Annie Dillard's lyrical and descriptive tone contrasts strongly with John James Audubon's. Dillard creates a poetic feeling that lasts the duration of the passage. She uses figurative language, in these cases similes, such as "like a loosened skein" and "extended like a fluttering banner" to describe the birds in her sight. From...
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