Summary and Analysis
A prevalent writer and headstrong woman, Louisa May Alcott wrote many poems and novels that portray independent and flawed female characters. Alcott’s poem “A Little Bird I Am,” published in 1880, portrays a sense of entrapment by a male society and gives a satirical portrayal of a woman’s expected place within the world. The poem’s speaker fights against these expectations through an underlying sarcastic tone and a succinct paradox of a bird that’s happy to be imprisoned.
Louisa May Alcott’s poem “A Little Bird I Am” is clean and short, with only two six-line stanzas. It uses a rhyme pattern in which the second and fourth lines rhyme, and each stanza ends with a rhyming couplet. Alcott also employs internal rhyme schemes, alliteration, and an inverted syllabic structure. The syllabic structure points to the paradox that the poem is. Halfway through each stanza of six lines, the meter flips, creating a shift from trimeter to tetrameter. This change may cause readers to feel an uncanny discomfort, as the tetrameter at the end of each stanza depict wrong, violent, or strange imagery.
The speaker portrays herself as a caged bird who appears, on the outside, to love and happily sing for her captor. However, the underlying sarcastic tone in the poem creates paradoxical metaphors that speak the truth of the poem. The speaker means to show that her freedom has been taken.
“A Little Bird I Am” begins with a
(The entire section is 1,107 words.)