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    The Great Scarf of Birds by John Updike Essay

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    All poets have a certain structure in order for their poem to be understood in an artistic and unique way. Through the use of organization, diction and figurative language, the poem is composed in a creative manner. In The Great Scarf of Birds, by John Updike, the speaker is understood through the use of all these methods. When the poet begins to speak of what he remembers, he uses vivid colors to describe his surroundings and also his stage in life. Ripe apples were caught like red fish in the nets (Line 3). This is symbolizing his stage in life that is ripe or closer to death.

    Like the fish in the nets he is aught on where his life should go. As the first stanza progresses, it leads the reader to the speakers eyesight which is focused on the abundant sky filled with birds. Yet the speaker begins to express of his awe and amazement that occurs when he sees the flock of birds in lines 14-24. He describes this flock as a cloud of dots like iron filings which a magnet underneath the paper undulates (Lines 16-18). This is a simile to death, something that is too strong for even the human spirit. This cloud is darkened in spots. This color imagery is another way to symbolize death in which the poet at this time fears.

    He describes the flock as a living being in lines line 20 when he describes this cloud as one that paled, pulsed, distended. This is like the movements of a heartbeat. He also depicts the flock of starlings as a rock, something constant, sturdy, and indestructible. In the next stanza, reality is set in to the speaker. He is distracted by his own world and does not see it as beautiful. It seems as if this scene is a work of art like pointillism. It is beautiful from afar but jaded looking up close. When he looks around, he considered himself like Lots wife, a person turned nto a pillar of salt when looking at something he shouldnt have.

    He then observes the birds the starlings covering the fairway. He states in lines 39-40, I had nothing in nature would be so broad but grass. Grass is green and the symbol of life beginning, growing, and renewing. The birds, a symbol of death, cover the grass, a symbol of life. In the sixth stanza, he observes one bird flying again into the sky and the rest of the flock following. He now describes the flock as a ladys scarf, something delicate and beautiful, unlike his first description of the birds as louds, something hovering and ominous.

    In the last stanza, the poet compares the lifting of the birds as an alleviation of his once burdensome heart. The grass is seen again when the birds leave. This is a symbol of the circle of life and it comforts him. In The Great Scarf of Birds by John Updike, the poet first is fearful of the stage in his life but is later comforted by envisioning the flocks flight, which becomes a symbol of lifes continuing cycle. This poem is further illustrated through its use of diction, organization, and use of figurative language.

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    The Great Scarf of Birds by John Updike Essay. (2018, Apr 03). Retrieved from

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