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
caught on where his life should go. As the first stanza progresses, it leads the
reader to the speaker’s 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...