Two Poems of Emily Dickinson and Mary Oliver

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Comparison and Contrast Essay between two Poems of Emily Dickinson and Mary Oliver Emily Elizabeth Dickinson, or called Emily Dickinson for short (1830 – 1886) and Mary Oliver (1935), are the two poets who contributed great works of art to American society during the late nineteenth and early twentieth century.

In spite of several characteristics that can be found in both Emily Dickinson and Mary Oliver poems, there are undeniably things that distinguish them from one another, although outside both are very famous poets of the poems that they wrote at that time, but actually inside, every poem that they bring the reader has a different meaning and quite deep in reader hearts. For example, as we read the poem “Alligator Poem” by Mary Oliver poem and the poem “A Bird Came down the Walk” by Emily Dickinson, we can clearly see that both poets have borrowed the images of the bird to express the deeply of each verse, and to add lively for their poem.

This method is called personification, is one of the main methods by which the poet used to write a poem vividly. Although both poets use personification methods in both poems, such as borrowing the images of the bird to write a poem as an example, but actually the use of such methods have different deeply meaning in the two poems. And that is the topic I write this essay, what are the similarities and differences between how they use images of birds to express their verses? How they have been very successful in using the personification methods to write a poem completely and deeply.

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First of all, about two poets, they are very famous poet and professional in the field of modern poems in the late nineteenth and early twentieth century, both began writing poetry when they were very young. (Write something about Emily Dickinson Early Life and Career). Mary Oliver, since she started writing about modern poetry, she had a lot of work that very successful and famous all over the world such as House of Light, Winter Hours: Prose, Prose Poems, and Poems, Why I Wake Early,… and and many other works.

One of the most famous works is New and Selected Poems – Volumne One, this work brought to her a great success on the modern way of writing poems, it was also the cause of the birth New and Selected Poems - Volume Two. (Write something about Famous Works of Emily Dickinson). In the poem “Aligator Poem” in “New and Selected Poems – Volumne One” of Mary Oliver, personification method is a main method that she used the most to write this poem.

As you read the whole poem, you can clearly see the bird that she wants to talk about is tanding in the tops of the trees, whistling any warning, crashing toward to her, its tail failing, slashing the grass, its cradle - shaped mouth gaping, then rimming with teeth,... these actions are not the actions of a bird, these are human actions, she used personification to pretend the bird is a person, or a friend, she pretended that she was walking on the street and saw the bird, but she thought that bird is not a normal bird because she could see its eye was trying to tell her something.

And of course she couldn't understand bird language, or the bird couldn't tell her what is going on with her in human language. So the only way that the bird could do is action, I do agree that human cannot understand the birds language, but I do surely agree that human can understand the bird action. Then finally she did understand what the bird was trying to tell her, she understood that something is really bad will happen to her in the future.

And yes, she fell, but thanks to the bird's warning, she leaped aside and fell, that is why she did not die. Then in the end, she said that this is not a poem about foolishness, but about how she rose from the ground and saw the world as if for the second time which means she is not a person accepts to failure, she will face it and will continue to stand up every time she falls. In other words, all those things above, including her imagination of a bird is a human, are a method to help she continue to stand up each failure, and see the world again.

On the other hand, in the poem “A Bird Came down the Walk” of Emily Dickinson, personification method is also one of the methods that Emily Dickinson used the most to write this poem like I said above in the instruction and in the poem “Aligator Poem”, this is also the similarity of the two poems, borrowing the images of bird to express their poems. She describes the simple experience of watching a bird came down the walk, but particularly is the bird didn't aware that it was being watched by the poet.

The poet depicts the bird and its actions throughout the whole poem such as hopped sidewise to the wall to let a beetle pass, glanced with rapid eyes, stirred his velvet head, unrolled his feathers, rowed him softer home,... these actions provides the readers with vivid imagery when they read the poetry because Emily Dickinson was very meticulous to describe the bird's actions as the actions of human. The poem makes the reader feel and experience very slowly the simple aspects of nature but very beautiful.

She creates the mood of the poem in the sequence of very simple activities of he bird but bring more excitement to the reader. The first three stanzas describe very reasonable to replace the sequence of operations of a bird that could occur in the order when watching many kinds of bird. The last two stanzas describe a very natural act of a bird when she provided a crumb. The poem is divided into two parts, the first three stanzas are the first part to describe the mood and tone of the poem by listing the activities of the bird and the rest of the poetry is the second part describes the effect of human interaction on the bird.

In the final stanza, a method that Emily Dickinson was used to write this poem is metaphor method; this is a difference between the two poems of Emily Dickinson and Mary Oliver, comparing the bird’s smoothness in flight to oars splitting the ocean and butterflies leaping from banks. She used metaphor method to compare the bird’s smoothness in flight to oars splitting the ocean and butterflies leaping from banks.

After all, the main goal of this poem is to show the simplistic beauty of nature through words, but this scene will be lost forever if people continue to destroy the nature such as the effect of human interaction on the bird as an example in this poem. To sum of, the big difference between the two poems is the meaning of borrowing the images of birds to tell the unbeaten in the poem "Poem Aligator" and to describe the beauty of nature in the poem "A Bird Came down the Walk”.

In conclusion, reading the poems of the two great poets Emily Dickinson and Mary Oliver is one of the best ways to learn and study knowledge although both poets have similar ideas and different ways to bring knowledge to the reader through words, as long as a person or a student willing to work hard and improve, he/she will be able to analyze things in life, to know how to overcome their own difficulties.

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Two Poems of Emily Dickinson and Mary Oliver. (2017, Mar 16). Retrieved from

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