Describe how the shape of "Easter Wings" influences and overlaps with the poem's meaning.
The form of "Easter Wings" reflects the content expressed. When the lines are fullest, the tone is most optimistic. In contrast, when the speaker is at the depths of despair, the lines are shortest. The hopeful final lines of each stanza return to the original length and in this way show that the speaker's spiritual progress has returned to its origins but with new insights.
Define the theological principle of felix culpa and describe how it functions in "Easter Wings." What does the speaker describe as the significance of the Fall?
Felix culpa is a Latin term that means "fortunate fall." The first stanza describes humanity's Fall through allusion to the Biblical narrative of Adam and Eve eating from the tree of knowledge and being expelled from paradise. The second stanza describes the speaker's own Fall through his sinful behavior. The stanzas end by suggesting that humanity and the speaker would not be able to find God if not for the experience of having fallen. In this way, the Fall is a positive and necessary step.
Describe three aspects of parallelism or symmetry in the poem and make an argument about how it reinforces its message.
Besides the two symmetrical stanzas of the poem, there are multiple lines that parallel each other. For example, the thinnest and most despairing lines of the first stanza—"Most poore"—intersect thematically with the equivalent lines in the second stanza—"Most thinne." The parallel between them shows that poverty and thinness are both metaphors for spiritual immaturity and God's punishment for sin.