"The Dog and the Sparrow" by Tourgenieff analysis
ENG 125: Introduction to Literature
Prof: Melissa Eidson
The poem "The Dog and the Sparrow" by Ivan Sergeevich Tourgenieff is an example of the sublime. It has the ability to cause the reader to feel deeply for the sparrow and its bravery and sacrifice. The poem is told in first-person point of view and uses figurative language and metaphors to tell the story. The theme is reverence for the sparrow, which like most themes, which is discovered until the end of the poem.
Tourgenieff wrote this poem in the first-person point of view, which "occurs when the narrator (describing his or her personal action and thoughts) is a participant in the story." (Clugston, 2010). The reader knows that this is a poem written about an event is the authors life and gives it a more personal feeling. However, being written in the first-person point of view means that we only have the thoughts of the narrator and not the other characters in the poem.
The use of figurative language, which is "something you are already familiar with. We all are. For example, when you say 'You're a stumbling block!' to someone who opposes ideas that everyone else in the group prefers, you are using figurative language." (Clugson, 2010) Tourgenieff uses figurative language when he describes his dog as "a huge monster" (Clugston, 2010) when describing the dog when it was attacking the sparrow.
Tourgenieff uses metaphors to add a dramatic depth to his poem. "Metaphor is an image that imaginatively compares one thing with another, showing how each has qualities that resemble the other." (Clugston, 2010) When the narrator and his dog spotted the young sparrow on the ground, Tourgenieff used a metaphor to describe the actions of the black-throated sparrow. "darting from the tree overhead, an old black-throated sparrow dropped like a stone right before his nose" (Clugston, 2010)
While reading this poem I am drawn in and feel the terror that the sparrow must have felt, and also the reverence that the narrator must have felt. The descriptive language in this poem is incredible. "It would save its young one; it screened it with its own body; the tiny frame quivered with terror; the little cries grew wild and hoarse; it sank and died. It had sacrificed itself." (Clugston, 2010) Tourgenieff used figurative language, which is the "use of words in the way they are not normally used in order to create a distinct, imaginative effect or impression" (Clugston, 2010), very well in his poem. A perfect example is when he described how the sparrow died; "it sank and died".
The theme of the poem "The dog and the Sparrow" by Tourgenieff is not revealed until the last few words; reverence. The word reverence means to have "deep respect for someone or something." (Google, 2014) Tourgenieff describes why he had such reverence for the sparrow's sacrifice for its young. "It was really reverence I felt before that little heroic bird and the passionate outburst of its love....verily stronger than death and the terror of death" (Clugston, 2010). This love and courage from this bird is astounding!
This great love and sacrifice of a sparrow for its young is what makes this poem sublime. The use of first person point of view, figurative speech, metaphors and theme are used well to create this example of the sublime. I think that Ivan Sergeevich Tourgenieff has done an outstanding job of writing a poem that causes the reader such depth of feeling and ,yes, reverence.
Clugston, R. W. (2010). Journey into literature. San Diego, California: Bridgepoint Education, Inc.
References: Clugston, R. W. (2010). Journey into literature. San Diego, California: Bridgepoint Education, Inc.
Google, 2014. //www.google.com/search?q=reverence+definition&oq=reverence&aqs=chrome.3.69i57j 0l5.15353j0j4&sourceid=chrome&es_sm=93&ie=UTF-8
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