Criticism of ¡°to a Waterfowl¡±

Topics: Poetry, William Cullen Bryant, Thou Pages: 2 (678 words) Published: January 9, 2002
The poems of Bryant may be classed, with regard to their subjects:--those expressing a universal interest, relative to the great conditions of humanity, types of nature symbolical of these, as the Winds; poems of a national and patriotic sentiment, or expressive of the heroic in character, as the Song of Marion's Men. Of these, probably the most enduring will be those which draw their vitality more immediately from the American soil. In these there is a purity of nature, and a certain rustic grace, which speak at once the nature of the poet and his subject. Symbolic images of nature abound in his verses. Here I¡¯d like to share some of my observation of some of the poem ¡°to a waterfowl¡±. Whither, 'midst falling dew,

While glow the heavens with the last steps of day,
Far, through their rosy depths, dost thou pursue
Thy solitary way?
Whither¡ªto what place. We have to read the whole stanza to complete the question. The author delays the meaning so long by putting in the description of time and place to create a feeling of distance to the destination. And "thee, thou, thy"--these are all poetic ways of saying "you" in the singular form. In a sense, focusing on a single distinctive "you" with no possibility of it being the plural "you." So, maybe it is more than just poetic diction, but the emphasis of solitude. Seek'st thou the plashy brink

Of weedy lake, or marge of river wide,
Or where the rocking billows rise and sink
On the chafed ocean side?
Rubbed away by friction, constant irritation. Here are three different possible destinations for the waterfowl. they have something in common. There is a Power whose care
Teaches thy way along that pathless coast,--
The desert and illimitable air,--
Lone wandering, but not lost
If he is speaking of God (what kind of god?), why does he call him a Power? Birds migrate because of natural instincts--what is the connection to a Power here? He might imply that Nature and God are...
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