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Written by Timothy Sexton
Much of the foundational information about the narrator is utterly missing. The speaker could be male or female, young or old, black or white or any combination thereof. It would seem, then, that the narrator is a cipher; unknowable. That may not be entirely true. The information beyond all argument is that the narrator is observant of nature and that the nature being observed is located in a climate where the winters are rather harsh. What can be extrapolated from the text with a high level of probability is that the speaker is a keen observer of nature; there is absolutely no reason to believe that the narrator has witnessed a frozen bird dropping from a tree only once. The absolute certitude inherent in the speaker’s assertion regarding dead birds and pity naturally lead to conclusion that this certitude is the result of close scrutiny of a repetitive event. And finally, the most important aspect of the narrator’s character that can be confidently extrapolated is the speaker’s irrefutable willingness to project its own intensely personal and subjective opinions onto others as an utterly objective universal truth.
The narrator would have the reader believe that the bird which freezes solid while its talons grip the bough of a tree is incapable of feeling self-pity with the implication being this inability is the direct result of not even knowing what self-pity is. The only possible bit of objective information about the bird that can be interpreted from the text is that it is frozen, dead and on the ground. Nothing else attributed to it by the speaker can be taken as a universal objective reality. But then, that is the whole point of the poem, isn’t it?
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