Table of Contents
To the Cuckoo Study Guide
Introduction: The poem titled To the Cuckoo is a wonderful poem by William Wordsworth. In this poem, William Wordsworth honours spring in the most perfect way. He claims that when spring arrives, a feathery creature he subsequently named cuckoo started singing in the most cheerful manner. This poem is made up of eight stanzas. It follows the standard, simple rhyme scheme of abab.
This is an outstanding pastoral poem with intricate stanzaic structures. It is most aptly referred to as a tribute to the Cuckoo. The poet has particularly dedicated this poetry to the cuckoo and conveys his devotion, commitment, and wish to see the cuckoo outwardly throughout the poem. When the poet hears the cuckoo, he is taken aback and wonders if it is more than just a winged creature. His awe transports him back to his boyhood when the cuckoo opens up a world of imaginative vibrancy to him. The cuckoo is a great depiction of purity, merriment, virtue, and boyhood. Some observers assume that the poem is a Cuckoo song written for the Cuckoo to show a superior relationship. The cuckoo appears in several of Wordsworth’s poems and sonnets, including The Solitary Reaper and An Evening Walk dedicated to a young girl.
Background of To The Cuckoo
To the Cuckoo is one of Wordsworth’s lesser-known pieces. The background of the poem is largely unknown. But we will try to put the poetry in context here.
Wordsworth is regarded as a supreme poet of Nature. He is a charming nature lover, a devotee of Nature, or a dedicated priest of Nature. His love for nature was most likely more pure and delicate than that of any other English poet before or after him. Nature has a different or freestanding in his poetry and is not treated as easily or casually as poets before him. Wordsworth had an obvious philosophy, a one-of-a-kind and distinctive view of nature. There are three points worth noting in his view of Nature:
➡ Wordsworth believed that the company of Nature offers delight to the human heart and he viewed Nature as exercising a recuperating effect on sorrow-stricken hearts.
➡ Wordsworth believed that people can learn more about a man and of morals, of evil and good from Nature than from every other philosophy.
➡ In his eyes, Nature is a teacher whose wisdom we can learn, and without which any human life is vain and deficient.
Thus, he believed that Nature is the real educator for a man.
Central Idea of The Poem
To The Cuckoo exemplifies the poet’s life becoming increasingly sentimental as a result of the Cuckoo’s presence. The poet expresses his admiration for the feathery creature, whom he knows only via his voice. Wordsworth yearns to meet the flying creature who effortlessly transfers him back to his lengthy childhood through his speech. The poet envisioned the Cuckoo as a porthole. The poet does not appear to rely on his eye, but rather on the feeling elicited by the Cuckoo.
The poem consists of eight stanzas, each of which contains four lines. The stanzas are rhymed as ABAB. The poet is writing in admiration of the Cuckoo bird, which reminds him of his youth. Throughout the poem, the poet’s tone is nostalgic; he welcomes the bird, which is projected as a carefree, joyous creature uninhibited by the constraints of materialistic existence.
Summary of To The Cuckoo
The poet was wandering in the beautiful valley of sunshine, flowers and greenery. He heard the sweet voice of a Cuckoo. He felt charmed. It was the spring season. The valley was brimming with excellent blossoms. Clear sunshine made the climate in the valley tranquil and delightful. The poet in his joyful energy calls to the Cuckoo as ‘Blithe New-Comer‘. The Cuckoo appears usually when spring comes to the earth. It sings joyfully.
The poet was lying on the verdant field when he heard the melodious tune of the Cuckoo. The melody appeared to him a creation of two shouts as Cuckoo. Further, he heard the melody being resounded by slopes around him.
In spite of the fact that the Cuckoo was singing in the valley, it conveyed to his mind the memory of his childhood days. By listening to the song and its echoes, the poet is helped to remember his past.
He again addresses the Cuckoo as the sweetheart of the spring. The bird is not visible to the poet. He. Only hears its voice. It is baffling that a voice is uttered by an invisible bird.
The poet remembered a similarly strange experience which had happened when he was a schoolboy. He at that point heard the voice of a cuckoo and was enchanted. It made him inquisitive to see the bird. He searched for the bird in the bush, tree and sky. However, he didn’t discover the winged creature. Still, the desire to see the bird did not die down in him. He wandered in woods and a field to find the bird. Still, he didn’t discover. The fine bird had turned into a fine hope, a charming love for the poet at the time. That hope and that adoration drove him to search for the winged creature yet the bird was never observed.
The poet does not surrender want to see the bird. He draws enormous joy from the voice of the cuckoo. The memory, of his childhood experiences, additionally brings joy to top him. The voice of the Cuckoo is the medium through which he returns to his past and infers delight. For him, his childhood is the golden time.
Despite the fact that the said time is as of now passed, he encounters a similar feeling at present through the cuckoo’s voice.
Cuckoo is addressed as a blessed creature. It is honoured with the nature of an angel or a fairy. It fills the world with satisfaction and joy. The earth where human beings live have all the earmarks of being a fairy place. Cuckoos like to stay in that fairy place.
Explanation of The Poem
To The Cuckoo, written by William Wordsworth, encapsulates Wordsworth’s passion for nature and all its accompanying aspects. This is a pastoral lyrical poem dedicated to the cuckoo bird. The poet’s life is deeply influenced by the bird’s voice.
Stanza 1: In this stanza, the poet welcoming the Cuckoo bird, calls it a ‘blithe new-comer. The poet is happy on seeing the bird and as the bird has just migrated to the region in spring, it has been called a ‘New-comer’. The poet has always found the voice of Cuckoo delightful but has never seen the bird in person, so he calls it a ‘Wandering Voice’.
Stanza 2: The poet then begins narrating how he came across the cuckoo’s song, while he was lying on the grass. He would listen to the echoing voice of the bird which consisted of two sounds. The voice would echo from hill to hill, nearly and at times far off.
Stanza 3: In the third stanza, the poet refers to the voice of the bird as chatter and sound, which the beautiful valley would comprehend. But, the voice also brings back the memories of his childhood days to him.
The voice as if narrates a story and transports the poet to his past days.
Stanza 4: Then, the poet welcomes the bird thrice in excitement and calls it ‘darling of the spring’. The cuckoo has been a mystery to the poet as he has never seen it but the voice is something he is familiar with.
Stanza 5: Continuing with the nostalgic tones, the poet expresses how in his school days he used to desperately search for the bird everywhere but was unable to locate it. He would look into trees, bushes, and sky to find it but could never trace the Cuckoo.
Stanza 6: The poet never got tired of looking for the bird and would roam in search of it into forests and on plains. The birds’ melody enthralled the poet and awakened within him a desire to find the source of this enchantment. The bird, but always has remained the poet’s long-awaited dream, hope and yearned love.
Stanza 7: The poet after declaring that he has not given up and the bird truly means a lot to him, says that he still listens to the cuckoo’s melody while lying down on the grass. He travels back to the present through this stanza and connects his golden time of childhood with the present time.
He never got bored with the Cuckoo’s voice.
Stanza 8: In the last stanza, the bird is referred to as a blessed one. The poet also calls earth a fairyland and the cuckoo’s presence makes this materialistic world, a musical place. This place, thus becomes a suitable home for the bird as this earth too is mysterious, having such a voice, yet hidden from the poet’s view. Some things are beyond the periphery of human vision, the poet thus gives a contrast between the materialistic world and the mystical wonders of nature.
Themes of To The Cuckoo
a. Nature: It is a prevalent theme as the poet loves nature and talks about pastoral views such as hills, valleys, flowers, sunshine, and woods.
b. Nostalgia: It is also a dominating theme in the poem as the poet walks down the memory lane and the cuckoo’s voice leads him to the remembrance of the past. The poet calls his childhood period the ‘golden time’ and ‘Visionary hours’ which he cannot get back as he is an adult now.
c. Gaiety: The tone of the poem is joyful as the poet is excited to welcome the bird and spring too. The arrival of the cuckoo fills the poet with ecstasy as he can revisit his childhood memories.
d. Innocence and purity: As the poet expresses his feeling related to childhood, he actually draws a contradiction between the materialistic and mystical world. Childhood is a period of innocence and pure thoughts wherein a person is unaware of the materialistic world.
e. Time: The poet relates present to past and the cuckoo bird transports him to the past memories. He also is reminded of the period when Cuckoo clocks would be seen in houses which would tell time and at particular hours the mechanical Cuckoo would dance with melody.
f. Hope and yearning: The bird is a symbol of love and the poet is referring to the bird as a longing because he has never seen it. This also conveys that the poet has undeterred hope that he will find his love someday.
Detailed Analysis of To The Cuckoo
The poem “To the Cuckoo” by Wordsworth is a poem of joy and happy memories. The little singing bird, cuckoo comes to England in late winter. Wordsworth hears the twofold yell of the cuckoo and glances around however the bird is no place to be seen. He celebrates to hear the old recognizable cry of bliss that goes from the slope to the slope. It does magic over him and he is back in his youth. It was a time of euphoria, ponder and honesty. In those days the melodies of the cuckoo captivated him. He meandered through greens and woods to get a look at the feathered creature. He searched for the cuckoo in tree, shrubs and open skies. Yet, it was never observed by the poet. Indeed, even now when he is hearing it in the sunshine valley, he can’t see it. He ponders whether this is a genuine bird or just a wandering voice. This meandering voice still influences him to overlook everything and enter the universe of creative energy. The ordinary world transforms into a fairyland, and he turns into a youngster by and by brimming with satisfaction and ponder.
In this poem, Wordsworth is respecting the spring in the most exquisite way. He says that when the spring begins, a bird, which he later named cuckoo begins singing in the most celebrating way. He says that he is in pursuit of the bird, and he can’t discover it. He says that when he was a schoolboy he used to search for this bird all nonstop. He says that the voice of the cuckoo seems a secret. He additionally says that he hears that delightsome voice through the forested areas and many places there is greenery. At last, the artist says that he will tune in to this sound while he lays there on the green fields.
In this poem, there is a component of nostalgia that makes Wordsworth feel warmed from hearing the Cuckoo’s voice “I hear thee and rejoice” (Line
2) Wordsworth depicts the winged animal as a “wandering voice” (Line 3) and this makes a feeling of opportunity in the winged creature’s autonomous nature “wandering” gives the feeling of going ahead throughout everyday life, warily, yet at no specific point.
Wordsworth uses an all-encompassing representation to depict how he needs to discover the singing bird “still longed for but never seen” which is relatively similar to he is attempting to discover his opportunity. This takes him back to the time when he was a schoolboy, “the golden time again” (Line 28) where he is young, honest and most imperatively obvious in this poem, free.
The end of the poem offers a disclosure promising, the “unsubstantial, faery place” (Line 31) that is the partner of the everyday life on the planet we by and large inhabit.
It very well may be concluded that To the Cuckoo is an expression of expectation, faith, and, not of dread and uncertainty.
➡ Mood, the setting of the poem
In the same way as other poems of Wordsworth, this lyric is also set in the English countryside in the spring season. The mention of blooms, sunshine and welcoming birds, are for the most part clear proof of this. The poem is set in a rich green valley, surrounded by slopes. when the poet rests on the grass, he can hear the wonderful voice resounding through the slopes and this vehicle him to the brilliant days of his boyhood. Thus the characterisation of the bird enables Wordsworth to combine his past memories with the present. This lyric is Wordsworth’s way of communicating how memory is a key factor in protecting the enjoyments and joys of being in contact with a divine being through nature.
To The Cuckoo | Poetic Devices
Alliteration means the redundancy of initial consonant sounds of the different words in the verses of a poem. Similar sounding word usages creates beat and mood in the poem to catch the enthusiasm of the reader. Some examples of alliteration usages utilized in the poem are as follows:
1. Wandering ==== Voice
2. Hil=========== Hill
3. Blessed======= Bird
The entire poem can be taken in its totality as an extended metaphor of time. It might be through the cuckoo, the writer is actually alluding to time. Time is precarious and wanders on its own principle. One can just revisit the past through the portals of time, a similar way the poet remembers his childhood recollections, utilizing the cuckoo’s melody as his window. Wordsworth can get to recollections from decades before i.e. the brilliant time of his childhood by means of the message that the Cuckoo brings.
The cuckoo has been more than once given certain human traits. Babbling, shouting, crying are the terms used to portray the cuckoo’s enunciation, are as a matter of fact the vocal attributes of human
The ‘O’ used to address the cuckoo is a real sound that is made to call someone, all the more generally called “Oh!”. In poetry, it is often used to create rhythmical cadences of music, without the expansion of actual instrumentation.
Wordsworth makes use of exaggeration in this poem to focus on some aspects of the cuckoo and nature. The earth is called an “unsubstantial, faery place”. This is to make a picture of a supernatural place and to add mystery to the cuckoo who has never been seen by the poet in reality.
The poet refers to his childhood as the “golden time”. This is done to build up how valuable the recollections of his youth are to him.
The poet makes such a great use of imagery in the Cuckoo. The reader’s brain is anticipated with the image of Spring in England. The usage of words like sunshine, flowers, Vale (valley) makes a radiant and glad picture. The steady reference to green fields and the cuckoo give this poem a peaceful touch and exhibit the artist’s connection to nature. Calling the cuckoo “blithe” and communicating his euphoria in inviting back the cuckoo, the poet gives the poem undertones of joy and happiness. The poet also gives away the season when he alludes to the cuckoo as the “Darling of Spring”.
To the Cuckoo is a poem containing eight stanzas, each being a quatrain, i.e. comprising of four lines. A rhyme scheme of abab is used all through the poem. Thus the poem pursues an alternate rhyme scheme.
Themes of To The Cuckoo
To the Cuckoo reflects numerous essential themes all through the poem. Some of these themes are also found in Wordsworth’s other poems. The main themes of the poem are mentioned here:
Nature is the focal subject in the poem “To the Cuckoo” as the poet discusses flowers, valleys and the poem is an ode to the cuckoo, a component of nature. The writer is lying on the grass when hears the cuckoo’s cry, which echoes crosswise over slopes. This demonstrates the poet’s profound pastoral lyrical connection to nature. Thus, To the Cuckoo catches Wordsworth’s affection for nature and all the other components of nature. This is a lyrical pastoral poem that is a tribute to the cuckoo. The poet depicts the significance of the voice of the cuckoo in his life. His poet centres around how the cuckoo bird in spring, a season that invites joy and vitality, enters his life and brings him on a trek down the world of fond memories of Nature. The poet’s tone is merry and light. Wordsworth also uses imagery and other literary devices to convey the immortality and visionary gleam he feels when he hears the cuckoo.
Nostalgia is also a commanding theme in the poem as the writer discusses how he recollects the voice of the cuckoo from his youth and how it transports the artist to his more youthful “golden days”. The reference of “visionary hours” is a ramification of times that the writer can’t get back.
The poet’s bliss can be felt all through the poem through the use of terms like “rejoice”, “Thrice welcome”, “darling of the Spring!”. The arrival of the cuckoo fills the poet with joy as he can return to his childhood memories with the cuckoo’s tune as an opening.
Hope and Yearning
Hope and yearning is also paramount theme of this poem. Hope and longing of the poet have been reflected when he communicates how he frantically used to search for the cuckoo in each conceivable place and his courageous expectation that he will discover his love, the cuckoo sometime in the not so distant future.
TO THE CUCKOO | TEXTBOOK QUESTIONS
Q. No.1 How does the Cuckoo’s voice charm the poet?
Ans. The Cuckoo’s sweet voice for flowers and valley charms the poet as it transports him to the golden time of his childhood when he would listen to the same melodies but could not find the bird. The nostalgic tune acts as a catalyst in bringing back the memories of the poet. He pines to see the bird who transports him back to his boyhood days so effortlessly by just its voice. The poet is shown to rely not on his sight, but on the emotions, the cuckoo arouses in him. The arrival of the cuckoo fills the poet with ecstasy as he can revisit his boyhood memories with the cuckoo’s song as a porthole. The cuckoo’s melody enthrals the poet and awakens within him a desire to find the source of this enchantment.
Q.No.2 Why does the poet call Cuckoo “wandering voice”, “Darling of the spring”?
Ans. The poet calls the Cuckoo ” wandering voice” because he is never able to locate the bird but only hears his voice which seems to pass from hill to hill- sometimes far and sometimes near.
The poet also calls it “darling of the spring” because it comes in spring and adds to the beauty of this season.
Q.No.3 Which childhood experiences does the poet describe in stanzas five and six?
Ans. The poet describes the beautiful experiences of his childhood when he used to listen to the Cuckoo and look around to find the bird. He remembers how he would wander in the woods and fields to locate the cuckoo which always remained hopeful that he yearned for a long time.
Q.No.4 What does golden time refer to?
Ans. The poet, labels his childhood as the “golden time” It implies that his childhood was precious to him and that he wants to relive the moments of his schoolboy days by lying down on the grass and listening to the voice of the cuckoo. The poet is nostalgic and wants to conjure up memories of his childhood by relying on the cuckoo’s cry.
Q.No.5 What is personified in the poem?
Ans. The bird “cuckoo” is personified in the poem. It has been repeatedly given certain human attributes. Babbling, shouting, crying, are the terms used to describe the cuckoo’s articulation, are
actually the vocal characteristics of human
Q.No 6 What is the rhyme scheme of the poem?
Ans. To the Cuckoo is a poem consisting of eight stanzas, each being a quatrain, i.e. consisting of four lines. A rhyme scheme of ABAB is followed throughout the poem. Thus, the poem follows an alternate rhyme scheme.
Q.No.7 What imagery does the poet use to portray the beauty of nature?
Ans. The poet makes so much use of imagery in the Cuckoo. The reader’s mind is projected with the picture of Spring in England. The usage of words like sunshine, flowers, Vale (valley) creates a sunny and happy image. The constant reference to green fields and the cuckoo give this poem a pastoral touch and showcase the poet’s attachment to nature. Calling the cuckoo “blithe” and expressing his joy in welcoming back the cuckoo, the poet gives the poem undertones of happiness and ecstasy. The poet also gives away the season when he refers to the cuckoo as the “Darling of Spring”.