Elizabeth Bishop’s “Sandpiper” is one of the perfect examples of poems which conceal a different meaning aside from the initial literal interpretation. At first look, the poem “Sandpiper” might simply look like a poem about a bird strolling in the seashore and noticing the particular things surrounding it. Although the poem seems to mean that it is a description of a sandpiper which is searching for something, a closer look at its figurative meaning means to say that the sandpiper is actually human beings who are in desperate search for a certain purpose.
Sandpiper Analysis “Sandpiper” starts with the stanza The roaring alongside he takes for granted, and that every so often the world is bound to shake. He runs, he runs to the south, finical, awkward, in a state of controlled panic, a student of Blake. (lines 1-4). The first stanza describes the place where the sandpiper is, its movements, and its relation to another poet William Blake. Since a sandpiper is usually seen on the seashore, the “roaring alongside” would most likely mean the body of water that is beside it.
The line “He runs, he runs to the south, finical, awkward,” (3), describes the seemingly hysterical movements of running. However, in an ironic way the situation is described to be in a “controlled panic” which follows the phrase “a student of Blake” (4). These descriptions reveals in a symbolic way that the sandpiper represents human beings who are sometimes threatened by a “roaring” and “shaking” world in their process of searching for something. The running talks about a man’s desperate searching where he/she is in a controlled state of panic which means this person is miserable within.
The second stanza shifts its focus on the particular things that the sandpiper sees. “The beach hisses like fat. On his left, a sheet / of interrupting water comes and goes” (5-6). The fifth and sixth line describes the body of water on the sandpiper’s side. This gives the idea that along the bird’s search it is able to see and notice the things around it such as the sea continuously touching the sand and its feet. This is highlighted in the seventh line, “and glazes over his dark and brittle feet. ” (7). However, upon seeing this, the bird “runs straight through it, watching his toes.
” (8). This means that the bird briefly enjoyed what it sees. In the third stanza, these particular things that the sandpiper notices are highlighted. It further describes in a much closer view the things that the bird notices. Watching, rather, the spaces of sand between them where (no detail too small) the Atlantic drains rapidly backwards and downwards. As he runs, he stares at the dragging grains. (9-12). The body of water is finally named in this stanza as the Atlantic. The sandpiper looks as the water goes back and forth towards the sand. This time it was seeing the grains of sand.
Together with the previous stanza, the third stanza emphasizes what the bird has seen in the process of its search. The detailed description of what the bird sees represents the view of a human being which observes a great deal of particular things in his/her life. In the fourth stanza, the world is described as a mist. It is a place where everything is uncertain and people are unsure of a lot of things. This stanza turns from the particulars that the bird see to a general view of the world. “The world is a mist. And then the world is / minute and vast and clear. ” (13-14).
These lines speaks about how the world is something that is not definite and vivid. It has its own mysteries that human beings are not capable of understanding as “. . . the tide / is higher or lower. He couldn’t tell you which. /His beak is focussed; he is preoccupied,” (14-16). The paradoxical claim of the bird being “focused” and preoccupied” is an indication that people in this world does not have a clear idea of what lies ahead. Despite their observations of even the smallest things in the planet, they still cannot comprehend many things about the world. looking for something, something, something.
Poor bird, he is obsessed! The millions of grains are black, white, tan, and gray mixed with quartz grains, rose and amethyst. (17-20). The last stanza gives out a clear idea that the sandpiper is searching for something amongst the millions of grains on its feet. The line “looking for something, something, something. ” (17), highlights the desperation of searching for a particular thing as the word “something” is repeated thrice. This also reflects the concept of a man obsessed in his/her search for a purpose in relation to the 18th line where the bird is described as “Poor bird, he is obsessed!
” (18). In the second to the last line, it is noticeable that the description of the sand is mentioned in accordance to color while the last line are descriptions of gems. This use of constructing metaphorical figures gives out an impression of the extreme quantity of the variety of grains in the shore. It appeared more plentiful and abundant. It also conveys beauty and treasure as the poet made use of the “quartz grains, rose and amethyst” (20) which means that if a person could just look closely at something and observe its small parts, this person can find something valuable and beautiful.
Conclusion Upon completing this poem, it is safe to conclude that the Elizabeth Bishop obviously made use of a sandpiper’s image to represent the nature of human beings searching for truth or purpose. It might just seem like a literal interpretation of a bird strolling and observing all kinds of things around it but the real thing is, the sandpiper is just an image that the poet thought to be the best representation of a searching human being. in the end of the poem, the sandpiper realizes that a general view of the world is not enough.
Everyone must see it by looking at the particular things that builds this huge thing such as the ocean so as to appreciate its beauty. The last two lines also imply that when a person looks closely at something by observing its parts, one can actually discover beautiful things about it. Simply put, people must not hurry in searching for certain truths or purposes, they must always have time to sit back and relax to appreciate the beautiful things that constitutes this big and unclear world.Sample Essay of Paperial.com