Study Guide

To a Waterfowl Tough-o-Meter

By William Cullen Bryant

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(2) Sea Level

Bryant is usually pretty kind to his readers, offering profound, beautiful musings on nature and life in very simple language. This is why is he is often classed as one of the fireside poets, a group of nineteenth century poets whose poetry was well-suited to the fireside (hence the name) because of its simplicity and ease.

"To a Waterfowl" is no exception to this general rule. While at times the speaker seems to wander a little off track (like in the first stanza), taking a few lines to get back to his point, this is just a small bump in the road that you'll quickly get used to. Bryant stays away from stuffy, archaic words that you sometimes find in nineteenth-century literature, keeping things down to earth. He was, after all, a lover of nature, and this is perhaps why his verse sometimes seems so, well, natural.

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