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To a Mouse

To a Mouse

by Robert Burns

Stanza 5 Summary

Get out the microscope, because we’re going through this poem line-by-line.

Lines 25-30

Thou saw the fields laid bare an' waste,
An' weary Winter comin fast,
An' cozie here, beneath the blast,
  Thou thought to dwell,
Till crash! the cruel coulter past
  Out thro' thy cell.

  • The speaker imagines what was going through the mouse's mind when she decided to set up her nest in the field of grain:
  • She saw the bare field just going to waste, and since winter—"weary winter!"—was approaching so quickly, she thought she'd set up shop and "dwell" in the field, all nice and cozy ("cozie") and protected from the blast of the wintry wind.
  • And then, CRASH. So much for that idea. The coulter—the sharp part of the plow that's designed to cut into the hard earth—went right through the mouse's little "cell," or solitary house.
  • Check out the repeated C sounds line 29—"crash!", "cruel!", "coulter!" Sure looks like alliteration to us. And that harsh C sound emphasizes the CRASH of the plow through the little mousie's roof. (Check out "Sound Check" for more on sounds in this poem.)
  • Also, calling the mouse's house a "cell" implicitly compares the mouse to a nun or a monk through a metaphor, since the simple, bare rooms where holy people live are called "cells." Don't we feel sorry enough for the little critter already?

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