Dorianne Laux’s “Bird”

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Throughout history, the story of womankind has evolved from struggles to achievements, while some aspects of the lives of women have never changed. Poet Dorianne Laux writes about the female condition, and women’s desire to be married and to have a home and children. She also seems to identify through her poetry with the idea that women tend to idealize the concept of marriage and settling down and she uses her poetry to reach out to the reader who may have similar idyllic views of marriage or the married lifestyle. Though Dorianne Laux’s poem “Bird” reads very simply, it is actually a metaphor for an aspect of this female condition. The tile of the poem “Bird” is simple and leads the reader smoothly into the body of the poem, which is contained in a single stanza of twenty lines. Laux immediately begins to describe a red-breasted bird trying to break into her home. She writes, “She tests a low branch, violet blossoms/swaying beside her” and it is interesting to note that Laux refers to the bird as being female (Laux 212). This is the first clue that the bird is a symbol for someone, or a group of people (women). The use of a bird in poetry often signifies freedom, and Laux’s use of the female bird implies female freedom and independence. She follows with an interesting image of the bird’s “beak and breast/held back, claws raking at the pan” and this conjures a mental picture of a bird who is flying not head first into a window, but almost holding herself back even as she flies forward (Laux 212). This makes the bird seem stubborn, and follows with the theme of the independent female. Laux goes on to write, “Maybe she lunges for the trees she sees/reflected in the glass,” and the saying the grass is always greener on the othe... ... middle of paper ... ...saying that marriage is a gamble, and that women risk failure by becoming married. Laux speaks to the women with the idyllic views of matrimony and she may be trying to issue a warning to them, or to teach them a lesson about how she feels. This is important to the narrator especially as she repeats the word “again” in the question she asks at the end of the poem. The juxtaposition of the free bird to the housewife constricted to a cluttered room is an important image and helps the reader see the differences between the two. Laux’s metaphor for the female condition is made clear by the end of the poem and is an attempt to make the reader question what the narrator has that women all over the world are so eager to partake in. Works Cited Laux, Dorianne. “Birds.” When She Named Fire. 1st. Budy, Andrea Hollander. Autumn House Press, 2009. Print

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