As I was sitting on my back porch early this morning, watching the Robins gather food from the earth, I was reminded of Dickinson’s A Bird came down the Walk. [For my French speaking readers, I have translated this poem from the original English to French.]

In her poem, Dickinson too is bird watching. Her birds, as with mine, are unaware that they are being watched. Their only thoughts are about finding food to feed their family–in this case in the form of an angleworm. Her Bird in this poem is only aware of the surrounding nature as he let’s the beetle pass by.

The speaker offers the bird “a Crumb” which scares the bird away. The Bird takes flight and like the butterfly, which Dickinson harks in the final stanza, “leap, plashless as they swim” in the beautiful, blue expanse above.

“A Bird” also reminds me of one of my favorite Dickinson poem’s “Hope is the thing with feathers” [see post] in which the bird in this story, which brings her hope, is also seeking food and never approaches the speaker for help!


A Bird came down the Walk by Emily Dickinson

 A Bird came down the Walk—
He did not know I saw—
He bit an Angleworm in halves
And ate the fellow, raw,

And then he drank a Dew
From a convenient Grass—
And then hopped sidewise to the Wall
To let a Beetle pass—

He glanced with rapid eyes
That hurried all around—
They looked like frightened Beads, I thought—
He stirred his Velvet Head

Like one in danger, Cautious
I offered him a Crumb
And he unrolled his feathers
And rowed him softer home—

Than Oars divide the Ocean,
Too silver for a seam—
Or Butterflies, off Banks of Noon
Leap, plashless as they swim.


My French Translation

Un oiseau marchait sur le chemin—
Il ne savait pas que je l’avais vu –
Il a mordu un Angleworm en deux
Et il a mangé le type, cru,

Et puis il a bu une Rosée
D’une Herbe commode—
Et puis il a sauté sur le côté du Mur
Laisser passer un Scarabée –

Il jetait un coup d’œil rapide
Cela s’est dépêché tout autour–
Ils ressemblaient à des Perles effrayées, je pensais—
Il remua sa Tête de Velours

 Comme quelqu’un en danger, Prudent
Je lui ai offert une Miette
Et il déroula ses plumes
Et le ramena plus doucement à chez lui—

Plutôt que des rames qui divisent l’océan,
Trop d’argent pour une couture—
Ou des Papillons, s’envoler des rives du midi
Saute, plashless comme ils nagent.

Copyright 2019 by Robyn Lowrie.  May be quoted in part or full with attribution to Robyn Lowrie (