A bird broke forth and sang,
And trilled, and quivered, and shook his throat
Till all the churchyard rang;
And then adjusted his little notes,
And bowed and sang again.
Doubtless, he thought it meet of him
To say good-by to men.
F397 (1862) J1761
In this simple poem, Dickinson has a bit of fun at the expense of a bird. She sets the scene simply: a funeral train entered the church cemetery and then the bird sings its little head off.
|Village funeral, Frank Holl (1845-1888)
It's a very droll image, the bird with his notes, bowing and singing. Dickinson ends with the ironic comment that the bird no doubt found it appropriate for him to "say good-by to men." This, in addition to being a lighthearted anthropomorphism, might also be a comment about funerals in general. Are they really the best way to say goodby?