To the Cuckoo by William Wordsworth

William Wordsworth’s poem “To the Cuckoo” is a eulogy for the bird. The poet is resting on the grass, immersed in nature when he hears the Cuckoo’s song. Wordsworth labels the bird as cheerful and unaffected by the constraints of industrial life. The bird’s call awakens feelings in him that he has not felt since he was a child. The poet’s heart is filled with excitement as he listens to the bird’s lovely melody. The call transports Wordsworth back to his childhood when he first heard the bird.

He joyfully accepts the bird and greets it with many pleasant names. He refers to it as a cheerful new nook. He considers if he should call it a bird or a thing beyond his comprehension. He searched the bushes, trees, and sky for the bird, but he never found it. The Cuckoo has always been a mystery and an invisible entity to him.

He refers to it as the “spring darling” and “blessed bird,” implying that the entire poem is directed to the cuckoo. The poet adores the bird and claims that it bestows joy and happiness on him.

Wordsworth concludes the poem by stating that the ground they share is not powerful or concrete in the figurative sense, but rather a mystical world. It may have such enormous natural beauty while also harbouring such tainted industrial evil. He thinks the world is a good place for such a lovely and loving creation.

Analysis of the Poem

To the Cuckoo is a lyrical pastoral poem by William Wordsworth containing an eight-stanza quatrain. The poet addresses this poem directly to the cuckoo and shows his love, dedication, and yearning to see the cuckoo visually throughout the poem. When the poet hears the cuckoo, he is taken aback and wonders if it is more than a winged animal. The cuckoo’s voice introduces the poet to a realm of creative energy. The poet addresses the cuckoo bird in numerous ways throughout the poem, demonstrating his affection and devotion for the bird.


The first stanzas demonstrate the poet’s excitement upon hearing the cuckoo’s voice. The poet refers to the cuckoo bird as a carefree newcomer. The poet is expressing his excitement at hearing the cuckoo bird’s voice. He is debating whether to refer to the cuckoo as a bird or a wandering voice. He refers to it as a “wandering voice” because to the cuckoo’s tendency to sing wherever it goes. The cuckoo is completely free to roam wherever it pleases.


In the second stanza, the poet describes how, while resting on the grass, he can hear the cuckoo bird’s double call echoing as it moves from hill to hill, producing the sensation of being close and far away. By double, the poet is referring to the reverberating impact of the bird’s song as it travels from hill to hill. The cuckoo soars from hill to hill, its music mesmerising the countryside.


The poet is implying in the third stanza that, while the cuckoo bird is babbling to the valley about sunshine and flowers, the bird’s voice is presenting or narrating to the poet a tale or storey of visionary hours. By “visionary hours,” the poet refers to bygone eras. The poet is transported back in time by the bird’s song. The cuckoo’s rambling causes him to reflect on his youth.


The poet greets the cuckoo bird three times and refers to it as spring’s darling. The poet is implying that to him, the cuckoo bird is more than a bird; it is an intangible being, a voice, and a mystery. The poet says this since he has not seen the bird but just heard its voice, rendering the bird a mystery to him. The poet does not regard the cuckoo as a regular bird; he sees something mystical in the bird.


The poet is implying that the cuckoo bird’s sound was identical to the person who listened to that same scream during his school years, and that same cry had prompted him to search for the bird in a thousand different locations in the bush, trees, and sky. The bird’s voice transports the poet back to his youth, when he used to listen to the cuckoo’s cry and roam innumerable directions in search of the source of the bird’s voice. The poet left no corner unexplored, whether it was the shrubs, the trees, or the sky. In other words, the poet is stating that the cuckoo’s wonderful voice caused him to perceive and grasp new views on everyday objects in nature.

The poet claims that he frequently travelled through woodlands and greenery in search of the cuckoo.


Even in the woods and on the green, the cuckoo bird remained a hope or a love that was sought for but never seen. The poet is equating the bird’s invisibility to hope and love, which are feelings or emotions that can only be felt or desired. The poet was looking for the cuckoo bird from his youth but could only hear it and never see it. As a result, he is left with the idea that it was still a wish for or a love that was never witnessed.


The poet is implying that he can still hear the cuckoo’s voice.


He might sleep on the plain and continue to listen to the bird’s voice until he could resurrect those golden days of his youth.
The poet addresses the cuckoo as a blessed bird in the final stanza. “Blessed” encapsulates the poet’s affection for and dedication to the cuckoo. And he is implying that the ground on which we are treading “again,” appears to him to be an unreal world, akin to a fantasy land. The poet refers to the earth as a “faery” or insubstantial realm. The poet uses the term “again” to demonstrate that when he was a child, he felt the planet was unreal, like a fairy land, and again, as an adult, he feels the same way. The poet believes that his fictitious world is the perfect habitat for the cuckoo. The poet is advising the bird to remain on earth because, in his opinion, it is the cuckoo’s existence that transforms it into an idealistically unreal and “faery” environment.

Questions and Answers

Short answer questions

1.Why did the poet rejoice ?

Answer. The poet rejoices when he hears the cuckoo bird’s wonderful song, which fills him with joy. It throws a spell over him, transporting him back to his childhood.

2.In what different ways the poet wants to address the cuckoo?
Answer. The poet addresses the cuckoo in a many ways. In the first stanza, he refers to it as a “Blithe Newcomer” and a “wandering voice.” Then he refers to it as a ‘Darling of the Spring,’ a ‘invisible thing,’ a ‘voice,’ and a’mystery.’ Finally, he refers to it as a “blessed bird.”

3. What sort of sounds does the poet hear?
Answer. Lying on the ground, the poet hears a double rising and subsiding sound that appears to move from hill to hill. He could also hear the cuckoo babbling to the valley of sunshine and flowers, transporting the poet back to his magical days.

4. The cuckoo brings……… to the poet.

Answer.Tale of visionary hours to the poet.

5.Where does the poet look for the bird a thousand ways?
Answer. The bird’s voice transports the poet back to his childhood, when he used to listen to the cuckoo’s call and try a thousand different things to find the source of the bird’s voice. The poet explored every feasible location, including the shrubs, trees, and sky. The poet was continuously wandering, hunting for the bird in the woods, anyplace, and everywhere.

6.Which is the fit home for the cuckoo?
Answer. The poet is stating that this earth we walk on, ‘again,’ appears to him to be an unreal place, like a fantasy land. The poet sees this imaginary earth as a suitable habitat for the cuckoo.

Paragraph Questions

1.How does the bird’s song bring out the visionary hours of the poets boyhood?
Answer. Despite singing to the valley and talking of sunshine and flowers, the poet is haunted by the cuckoo bird’s song. The cuckoo birds flit around in the valley, surrounded by flowers and sunlight; consequently, the bird’s songs are an ode to these features of nature. However, for Wordsworth, these songs serve as a form of nostalgia, taking him back to the idyllic days of his childhood. He refers to those periods as “visionary hours,” because he can not return to them in person and can only imagine them in his mind. When the poet states he has heard the cuckoo’s song before, it indicates that he recalls the cuckoo from his youth, and the cuckoo’s sound now functions as a catalyst in bringing back the poet’s childhood memories.
 

2.Comment on the wandering voice, a tale of visionary hours and a mystery.
Answer. Wandering Voice: Wandering Voice denotes a free and independent voice. The poet is debating whether to refer to the cuckoo as a “bird” or a “wandering voice.” Because the cuckoo sings wherever it goes, he refers to it as a “wandering Voice” The cuckoo is unrestricted in its freedom to roam anywhere it pleases. The poet implies that the cuckoo is not bound by any rules. It also implies that the poet has never seen the bird and only knows him by his voice.

The term “visionary hours” refers to eras in the past. The poet refers to those moments as “visionary hours,” because he can not return to them in person and can only imagine them in his mind.

A Mystery: The poet refers to the cuckoo as a mystery. This is when the poet expresses unequivocally that he has never seen a cuckoo in person. He recognises the bird based on its call. As a result, the cuckoo is more of a mystery voice that the poet want to hear. Despite the fact that the bird has been visibly hidden from the poet for all of these years, the bird’s song evokes such strong emotions in the poet that the poet recalls the cuckoo bird just by its voice.

3.How are the following expressions significant in the poem

a. o’blessed bird

“Blessed” expresses the poet’s affection and devotion to the cuckoo. Wordsworth refers to the cuckoo as a blessed bird because its existence has transformed the ‘unreal’ earth into a fantasy land. This could be due to the earth’s mesmerising natural components, such as the sky, woodlands, rivers, and valleys, but it is also plagued by industrial life limitations that limit an individual’s independence. A place with such enticing paradoxes is suitable for the cuckoo.

b. faery place

The poet refers to the world as mystical, a land of fairies, because the earth contains mesmerising natural components such as the sky, woods, rivers, and valleys. The presence of cuckoo has transformed the ‘unreal’ earth into a fairy land.

c.Fit home for thee

“A home fit for Thee” refers to a home that the cuckoo deserves, which is the earth. Earth contains mesmerising natural components such as the sky, woodlands, rivers, and valleys, yet it is also plagued with industrial life limitations that limit an individual’s independence. A place with such enticing paradoxes is suitable for the cuckoo. According to the poet, the earth, because it is so adaptable, is the ideal home for the cuckoo.


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