My friend must be a Bird

The Goldfinch, 1654, Carel Fabritius
Background Image: The Goldfinch, 1654, Carel Fabritius

Again she explores the relationship with things that fly with death (moving on to heaven / faith) and here she calls this her friend, but a friend with “Barbs” that could sting her (and wind up sacrificing itself in the process). She’s intrigued with the dual nature of things, how the friendly bee carries a weapon with it so as nobody can get too close to it.

Yet she is uncertain exactly who (or what) this friend is. She uses the words “must be” (twice) and the simile “like a Bee” – as well as the word “puzzlest” which gives the Bee a sonic quality with the ‘zz” sound – but what exactly is she referring to? The difference between a “Bird” and a “Bee” is an interesting question because at what point is one animal different from another? For example they both fly, they both die, and while one has a stinger, aren’t we just classifying things based on appearances? If you were to explain to someone who had no concept of what a bird is, then all things that fly (and die) would be birds, so then you’d have to explain that a bee is different because of some smaller unique characteristic. Yet (in evolution) when does one thing become a unique new thing? When does the bird become the bee (I know that they don’t, it’s a philosophical, not biological question I’m asking).

Perhaps then she is observing how alike things are in spirit, even though their outward appearances are different where the bird does not have a barb like the bee.

I think I need to spend the rest of today contemplating this poem more because I feel like there is a lot more going on here, but I need to dig deeper.