Saturday, June 10, 2017

"A Minor Bird" by Robert Frost


First there is this from Robert Frost:

I have wished a bird would fly away,
And not sing by my house all day;

Have clapped my hands at him from the door
When it seemed as if I could bear no more.

The fault must partly have been me.
The bird was not to blame for his key.

And of course there must be something wrong
In wanting to silence any song.

Next there is this personal postscript:

I sense something more than a poet's thoughts on being annoyed by a bird's song in the four rhyming couplets of this poem. Beyond the literal meaning of the word, I sense the poet's awareness of his own isolation, depression, and hopelessness. As for myself, I have often in my own isolation and depression tried to ignore and blame others for my own problems. Yes, I realize that there is something very wrong and wasteful about that frame of mind. Perhaps no "song" by anyone else should be silenced, especially if the singer is simply being himself. In fact, if I were to open my heart and mind to others' songs, life might be better. Yes, life might be not be hopeless. Well, for me, that is the part of the message in this poem. Of course, I could be quite wrong about the four rhyming couplets. Tell me what you think.


11 comments:

  1. I actually got the same meaning from this poem as you did, Tim. To me, it speaks to the narrator's awareness of his own mood, if you will. It also speaks to his awareness that that view isn't accurate.

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    1. Margot, Frost is so much more subtle and sophisticated than I previously would have acknowledged; my recent encounters have made all the difference.

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  3. Obviously something is nagging at the poem's narrator. Obviously the root of the problem lies in the narrator himself. I think that this is situation that most of us can relate to.

    I absolutely love Frost. Thanks for highlighting his work.

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    1. Brian, much of Frost's poetry is, I think, autobiographical, and I suspect this poem is one of those "confessions."

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  4. Tim,

    As far as I can see, you got it right. The bird was just being itself, so the problem was his. And there is something wrong with trying to silence a song.

    Not listening to a song is one's privilege, but wanting to silence it is a crime.

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    1. Fred, I wonder what provoked Frost to write this one; see my reply to Brian.

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    2. Tim,

      I wonder if Frost himself knows. He says "must" and not was or is. It recognizes the probability of his responsibility but not the cause.

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    3. Yes, and, of course, I fall into the trap of intentional fallacy by such pondering. New Critics would scold me.

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  5. well, the"I" in the poem (narrator) is also singing in a way, so there are two singers, one bird and one human; both singers have a "right" to sing... maybe the bird sings because the human is annoying him with his mournfulness...
    this may seem silly... but how do we really know?...

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    1. Not silly, Mudpuddle, because another song is always welcomed here. Sing on!

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