This poem analysis of H. W. Longfellow’s ‘Birds of Passage’ is divided into three parts – context, rhyme scheme, and Longfellow’s view of poetry.
Context: This part of the poem analysis focuses on the context in which ‘Birds of Passage’ was published. An investigation of this nature will also explain why the subtitle of this poem is ‘Flight the First’. ‘Birds of Passage’ was published in the collection of Longfellow’s poems entitled The Seaside and the Fireside, and its subject matter afforded the poet a convenient subtitle under which to group successively poems contributed to various periodicals, especially Putnam’s Monthly and The Atlantic Monthly, which also have the theme of flight as their subject matter. Thus, ‘Birds of Passage’ was made the introductory poem of The Seaside and the Fireside, and subtitled ‘Flight the First’, while all subsequent poems were numbered in the series as ‘Flight the Second’, ‘Flight the Third’ and so on.
Rhyme Scheme: Longfellow is known for the simple rhyme schemes of which he makes use in most of his poems. Like a true inheritor of the Romantic tradition, he does not believe in using lofty and complex rhyme schemes, but is better able to express his love of nature through relatively unadorned verse patterns. In ‘Birds of Passage’, his rhyme scheme is consistent for every two stanzas, and the pattern he follows in this respect is as follows – AAAB CCCB. This same pattern continues for each of the five pairs of stanzas that make up the entirety of the forty lines of the poem.