It is said that “Still Citizen Sparrow” is an allegory of modern life. Before knowing more about it one must know what is allegory and how is modern life different from the old one. There are certain characteristics of modern poetry that differentiate it from traditional poetry. Undoubtedly, “Still Citizen Sparrow” is a modern poem but that does not make this poem an allegory of modern life. Whole poem is based on an idea but that idea is a hotchpotch of philosophy of Richard Wilbur about life and non-identical thoughts of different people. What makes “Still Citizen Sparrow”an allegory of modern life is its unique philosophy that is based on modern thinking.
One must have prior knowledge of “Still Citizen Sparrow” before knowing how it becomes allegory of modern life. So, it is recommended to read critical analysis of “Still Citizen Sparrow”. In order to prove “Still Citizen Sparrow” an allegory of modern life, this article is divided into four following categories:
- What is an allegory?
- What is modern life?
- How these things are related to each other?
- Richard Wilbur philosophy makes “Still Citizen Sparrow” an allegory of modern life.
What is an allegory?
Allegory shares many characteristics of symbolism. Hence, it is much difficult to differentiate it form symbolism. Allegory reveals hidden meanings so as symbolism. What makes these two terms different is the story. Allegory is a type of story and not an object. Symbolism, on the other hand, is an object. A word may become a symbol but it may hardly become an allegory. Hence, allegory is a type of picture or story that reveals a hidden message. Mostly, that hidden message is the moral of story. Apparently an allegory has no meaning at all but its interpretation involves hidden and moral lesson.
What is modern life?
Typical traditional life had simple problems but modern life became way more different from the old one. With development in psychology, problems have also increased. Most of the problems in modern days are psychological. Modern poetry is the depiction of modern problems. However, Richard Wilbur remains true to his single subject in his poem “Still Citizen Sparrow” and that is to reveal modern illogical beliefs. In hidden meanings, he redefines modern psychology. According to him, modern life is better but some people are still sticked to old definitions and ideas that is detrimental.
With development in every field of life, one must seek truth. One should not just make his belief strong on the basis of old thinking. Richard Wilbur wants drift in human psyche. He is of the view that people in modern days should think and research before strengthening their irrational beliefs.
How is allegory related to modern life?
Frankly, there is no connection between allegory and modern life even then Richard Wilbur establishes a connection between the two in “Still Citizen Sparrow”. The poem is just story of a sparrow and vulture. However, it is not entirely true. It is just surface meaning of the poem. Deep down this poem is a representation of a philosophical idea that the poet has in his mind. He observes human psyche as well as nature of animals. Then he paints a moral picture. In this way, he makes an indirect connection between the two.
“Still Citizen Sparrow” Allegory of Modern Life.
In this article we don’t need to discuss story of the poem. We have to discuss the terms used in poem and its philosophy so that we can achieve our ultimate goal of proving “Still Citizen Sparrow” and allegory of modern life. Following philosophical ideas of the poem makes “Still Citizen Sparrow” an allegory of modern life.
- Blind Belief.
- Civilized Vs. Uncivilized.
- Inner beauty Vs. outer beauty.
- A person is known because of his work.
- Some people are destined to do a specific work.
From the very beginning of poem we see Richard Wilbur talking about a sparrow and vulture. It is a strong belief that sparrow is beautiful bird whereas vulture is the ugliest bird ever existed in this world. Richard Wilbur thinks the opposite. He is of the view that people should open their eyes. This old belief has no strength at all. People spread a news as they hear it without researching. They don’t verify the fact whether it is true or not. If a lie is famous and comfortable, people accept it and believe without any hesitation. On the opposite, people reject harsh truths knowing that it is not right. Is not it happening in modern life? “Still Citizen Sparrow” is an interpretation of this very philosophical idea due to which it becomes an allegory of modern life.
Civilized Vs. Uncivilized:
Sparrow is shown as civilized and vulture an uncivilized bird. Some nations are considered civilized whereas others uncivilized. Richard Wilbur is of the view that either definition of civilization is wrong or the people don’t know what civilization is. Vulture who is helpful is uncivilized. It is an irony; people who does the dirty work are termed as uncivilized. A person who cleans the city is equally hated by everyone but if he does not do the unpleasant work can the city remain clean? Of course not. We should not love a person because of his apparent beauty but because of his kindness.
Inner Beauty Vs. Outer Beauty:
He accepts that sparrow may be beautiful but he does not fall under definition of real beauty. Whether it is bird or human, everyone should be known because of his work. Richard Wilbur emphasizes on the importance of inner beauty. Physical beauty is just to show off. Inner beauty on the other hand attracts though it requires time.
There are also religious references in the poem. Richard Wilbur remembers Noah’s great work of building ship and saving humanity. He was destined to do that work. It is the case with vulture. He is also destined to clean the dirt. The poet is of the view that some people are directed by Almighty to perform some specific tasks. It is also his unique philosophy. Though it is religious yet it is full of truth. There is no denying the fact that some people are destined to perform some tasks.
Conclusion (“Still Citizen Sparrow” is definitely allegory of modern life):
Suffice is to say that in “Still Citizen Sparrow” Richard Wilbur shares his unique philosophy due to which it becomes an allegory of modern life. It gives us a lifetime moral lesson. It forces us to think before believing on any belief. There is also a message in the poem that apparent beauty has no value and people should not be differentiated on the basis of outer beauty. Rather inner beauty (moral beauty) should be kept in mind. The poet depicts truth. He directs everyone to seek truth through an allegory. We must say that he is right.