Study Guide

The Mind Is an Enchanting Thing Birds

By Marianne Moore

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We've got a kiwi and a dove. And boy, you couldn't pick two more different birds. Kiwis are big, flightless birds, while doves are small, graceful, and take to the sky whenever they please. Despite their differences, though, these birds come together in Moore's poem to give us a fuller picture of the mind and all its different facets and abilities.

  • Lines 2-5: Okay, to be fair, the first winged thing we get isn't a bird, but an insect. Nevertheless we think it fits. This katydid-wing imagery gives us one way to look at the mind—as a glittering web of connections.
  • Lines 7-10: The simile here compares the mind's behavior to that of a flightless bird, rooting its way over the ground with its super pointy beak.
  • Lines 21-22: The enjambment in these lines sets us up for an awkward moment of anticipation. How is the mind like the dove—oh wait it's like the dove's neck. Hmm. That's a bit different, no?
  • Lines 30-31: The mind is fire in the dove-neck's iridescence. The emphasis here is all about light. The mind is fire and it shows up in iridescence. In other words, it's really really pretty.

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