How has AD Hope used language to construct meaning in “Death of the Bird”?
In “Death of the Bird”, Death is the central image, projected from the numerous sensual metaphors used through the poem.
AD Hope uses the metaphorical journey or the last migration of the bird to represent death. Death is seen as the end of life, and there doesn’t seem to be a spiritual continuation. He also uses death to present the condition of existence for all living things. He also examines in a metaphorical way, the image of the bird & the human condition. AD Hope uses personification of the wind to imply that the bird is weak from age, and is no longer able to fly properly anymore. There is no more light for her, and in the grand scheme of history, vastness of all time, she is nothing but a speck on a map. She is simply insignificant.
Not that this is the only reason people have taken this poem so much to heart. It is also a beautifully conceived poem, turning in every respect about its one central and immediately compelling symbol (another thing the poet admired about Yeats), and a deeply affective one, of a delicate yet remarkable creature called by instinct to make one last incredible journey to the other side of the world but becoming disoriented and falling to her death. An old shibboleth of criticism would say the reader is seduced deeply into the 'pathetic fallacy', feeling the bird's fate almost as if it were a human one, as indeed I think it also is. Consider the title. Not the death of a bird, but of the bird, as if to emphasise the bird as symbol. But for what, and of what kind? The bird, for example, is female, and deeply personified. Few who were there were surprised that Hope read this poem at the funeral of his wife of fifty years, Penelope, or at how deeply moving that reading was. As if she had been bird, but also as if the bird were somehow the bird in us. When we think that from the time of Coleridge's 'The Rime of the Ancient Mariner' the bird has also...