Further In Summer Than The Birds || Summary and Analysis

Also Read

Further in Summer than the Birds

Further in Summer than the Birds
Pathetic from the Grass
A minor Nation celebrates
Its unobtrusive Mass.
No Ordinance be seen
So gradual the Grace
A pensive Custom it becomes
Enlarging Loneliness.
Antiquest felt at Noon
When August burning low
Arise this spectral Canticle
Repose to typify

Remit as yet no Grace
No Furrow on the Glow
Yet a Druidic Difference
Enhances Nature now.

Further in Summer than the Birds Pathetic from the Grass A minor Nation celebrates Its unobtrusive Mass.
Further in Summer than the Birds

Summary

      'Further in Summer than the Birds' is one of Dickinson's most profound and complex observations about nature. The poetess's meditation upon the cricket in this poem has received perhaps more criticism and controversy than the other of her poems without any clear statement emerging as to its full philosophical import. The poem transforms the cricket's song through religious imagery and terminology to a momentous celebration that marks the poignant change of summer to winter.

      In this poem, the time of year is late summer when the noisy insects multiply everywhere. The crickets appear much later in the summer than the birds, and their chirping in the tall grass awakens in the poet thought of the reason's impending end. She equates the crickets' performance to the celebration of a Mass hidden from her eyes and also from her understanding. The crickets are pathetic in the observer's eyes because they are small and doomed. They may be seen hiding in the grass which gives the impression of a 'minor nation'. As do the Catholics, they celebrate a mass - an enactment of a sacrifice with a promise of resurrection.

      The second stanza further extends the insects' invisibility, again with sound replacing sight. An ordinance marks a change in a phase of a religious ritual. It is a rite / Ordinance unseen by the human eye and the melancholy prayer (grace) rises so slowly and gradually that it only enhances the feeling of loneliness in those who are attentive enough to listen to it. There are changes in the crickets' Mass which can hardly be noticed. The grace which the crickets seek or celebrate is gradual because it is part of the life process that they are rehearsing in the pulsating rhythm. The contemplative speaker seems to be observing them in isolation. Gradually, the monotonous sound of the crickets' celebration casts her into a pensive mood and enlarges in her the feeling of loneliness. She is looking ahead to the loneliness of winter when she will not have even the companionship of nature and its small creatures.

      The final stanza moves from meditation back to the physical scene. It is observed that the grace or beauty of the world remains undiminished. The furrow is a physical depression, usually made by ploughing or shoveling earth. The glow is generally the beauty of nature. The lively spectacle of summer still remains. It is also suggested that nature and its small creatures are sacrificing themselves so that spring will come again with all of its abundance. Nevertheless, the poet concludes that nature has been enhanced by a 'Druidic Difference'.

Interpretation and Critical Analysis

No Clear-Cut Message:

      The poem does not offer a lesson or an answer about the mystery of existence. The end of summer, of life, indicates a change which the crickets foretell in their Mass. But what that change consists of is beyond the poem; it is hidden in nature away from the poet's, and our, eyes.

Ambiguities:

      The poem is full of ambiguities. Mass is both a memorial service and a sacrament of resurrection, the 'unobtrusive Mass' of the insects indicates the sacrificial death of summer, its repose in winter, and its cyclic regeneration in spring. It conveys the feelings of pathetic, pensive and loneliness. Or it may be the death of the crickets show the long, undisturbed repose that lies ahead in winter. The generative principle of repose and loneliness is the arrival of the gloomy autumn and bleak winter.

Nature:

      Nature follows a cyclic pattern which goes on for ever, Nothing stays in nature in a permanent basis. Sacrifice is the law of nature. Just as summer is sacrificed to autumn, so is the individual life sacrificed to the whole. Noon marks the moment between the completion of one cycle and the beginning of another, just as August marks the end of summer and the beginning of autumn.

      The poem demonstrates her fascination with nature's odd creatures and the mysterious passage of summer into winter. The poem records the poet's response to the monotonous chirping of the crickets on a hot noon near the end of summer.

Religious Implications:

      Religious terms like Mass, Ordinance, Grace, candles burning low, canticle figure prominently in this poem. The entire ritual takes place in the heart of nature. The Mass is sung by the lowly insects and it is 'a Druidic Difference' that 'Enhances Nature now'. The last lines of the poem emphasises the luminous quality of the experience. The speaker, initially describing the scene in Christian terms, is at the last subsumed into nature's rites. There is both dread and awe in her apprehension of a force that is supreme above all creatures.

Symbols and Syntax:

      The poems imagery and syntax are very concentrated. The image of the cricket is transformed into a striking symbol of the estrangement and sorrow that man feels with the approach of winter. It is the echo of his own intimations of mortality. The song of the crickets increases man's fundamental loneliness, since he is excluded from full participation in their rituals. The song points to the cleavage of man from nature. Yet this enlarging also brings relief and comfort. Man finds his own estrangement fro life echoed by nature itself, since the intensity of the insects' mating song foretells their death. The man can thus perceive that his isolation is not unique phenomenon but cosmic and universal.

Tone:

      The tone throughout is hushed and solemn, imbued with a poignant sense of longing and awe by the pervasive religious undertones.

Explanation with Reference to Context:

Further in Summer than the Birds
Pathetic from the Grass
A minor Nation Celebrates
Its unobtrusive Mass.

      It is one of Emily Dickinson's most fascinating and complex observations about Nature. The poetess beautifully captures the change from summer to winter in this poem. She presents the closing phase of the summer when the crickets noises are echoed everywhere.

      This stanza deals with late summer when the noisy crickets are heard in the heart of Nature. The crickets appear much later in the summer than the birds, and their chirping in the tall grass stimulates the poet's thought of the reason's impending end. She compares the cricket's performance to the celebration of a Mass hidden from the eyes and also from her understanding. The crickets appear pathetic in the observer's eyes because they are tiny and heading towards destruction. The entire Scenario gives the impression of a 'minor nation'. They look like celebrating a Christian Mass which is an enactment of a sacrifice with a promise of resurrection.

No Ordinance be seen
So gradual the Grace
A pensive custom it becomes
Enlarging Loneliness.

      The closing of the late summer witnesses the noisy insects multiply everywhere. The crickets can be seen chirping at their loudest in the tall grass. They look quite pathetic because of their tiny stature and heading towards destruction. They seen to be celebrating a Mass which suggests the possibility of resurrection.

      The insects are invisible because they are hiding themselves in the tall grass. An ordinance marks a change in a phase of a religious ritual. It is an ordinance which remains invisible to the human eye. The melancholy prayer (grace) rises so slowly and slowly that it adds to the loneliness of the observers. There are changes in the crickets' Mass which can hardly be noticed by them.

Remit as yet no Grace
No Furrow on the Glow
Yet a Druidic Difference
Enhances Nature now.

      The crickets are hiding themselves in the tall grass and are no more noticed by the listener. They enhance the loneliness of the contemplative listener who cannot identify their exact location. She is looking ahead to the loneliness of winter when she will be denied the companionship of Nature and insects.

      The final stanza brings us back into the world of Nature. It is observed that there is no change in the grace or beauty of this world. The furrow stands for the physical depression, usually made by ploughing or shoveling earth and 'glow' symbolizes the beauty of Nature. The lively spectacle of summer still remains. It is further conveyed that nature and its small creatures are sacrificing themselves so that spring will come again with all of its abundance. Nevertheless, the poet concludes that the beauty of nature has been enhanced with a 'Druidic Difference'.

Annotations:

      'Birds pathetic from the Grass' - Birds refer to crickets which appear pathetic to the spectator's eyes because they are small and heading for destruction. 'A minor nation' - the world where they are hiding looks like a small nation. 'Celebrates / Its unobtrusive Mass' - the crickets are celebrating a Mass which shows an enactment of a sacrifice with a promise of resurrection.

      'Ordinance' - it is the sign of changes in a phase of a religious ritual. They are too continuous and subtle to be perceived. 'Pensive custom' - it is the personification of the insects. It suggests a willed rather than an automatic action. 'Enlarging oneliness' - intensifying loneliness. 'Antiquest' - it means most antique. The cricket's mass appears most antique. It refers to primeval, ancient rituals, rooted in very foundation of the world or nature. 'Spectacle Canticle' - is a ghostly religious song, 'Repose' - points to the period of sleep and death.

      'Grace / No furrow' - there is no change in grace or beauty of the world. lt is unalterable. 'Furrow on the glow' - There is physical depression or cleavage as is often caused by ploughing or shoveling earth. 'Glow' stands for the beauty of nature. 'Druidic' - Druids were ancient pagan priests and prophets who sometimes practiced human sacrifices. 'Druidic difference' - means that this aspect of nature prophesies a coming magical and mysterious change, but this prospect of change increases rather than damages nature. 'Enhancement' - increases.

Previous Post Next Post

Google Search