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Parrot By Alan Brownjohn

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Autor:  fareenasithy  14 May 2011
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Parrot by Alan Brownjohn
Parrot by Alan Brownjohn is a humorous poem. The poet presents a humorous picture of a parrot's thoughts. The parrot in the poem is a caged bird and does not speak like the other parrots. Instead, he reveals his thoughts with a sulky feeling. The poet brings out the thoughts of the bird with a humorous touch. But at the same time, he is also able to reveal the cruelty of human actions that restrict the freedom of animals.
In the poem, the bird understands the humans, but the humans around him fails to understand him. This is the amusing feature of the poem but also the sad picture of the situation. The poet is able to ridicule the humans for their boastful nature. They capture a bird and cage him. They use him as a show piece to show off. They also try to train him to imitate them. But when they fail, they try to show him as a thinking bird.
‘'They're saying, ‘'He won't talk because
He is a thinking bird.''
The bird is inwardly mocking them. Through this, the poet shows how man misunderstands nature. He is also callous enough to come to the conclusion that his bird is a thinking bird.
‘ The family say, ‘'Oh yes,
He's silent but he is listening
He thinks more than he says.''
He shows his pride by saying that he owns a bird which is philosophical and intelligent.
‘He ponders on the things he hears,
Preferring not to chatter'
In a way this is true, as we know, the bird in the poem really thinks. But his thoughts are not what the family expects him to think. His thoughts are full of plans against the family.
‘ I'm working on some shocking things
In order to surprise them'
The lines create amusement, as the irony is clear here. The readers know that the bird is planning a verbal attack on the family because he is angry. But the foolish humans around him are unaware of this and continue to boast.
The idea also reveals the absurd nature of the poem. It is impossible to believe that a parrot would plan such an attack. It is also absurd to say that he waits for the right moment to speak out. This unreal element creates the humour in the poem. But the poet uses this technique of a first person narration to make the reader to focus on the plight of a caged bird. The poem allows us to imagine the desperate feelings of a caged bird. Alan Brownjohn is able to show the callous treatment of animals by humans. Though the poem is funny,he makes us to understand that the parrot is not happy. He is sulky as he is caged. The humans derive pleasure from this unfortunate creature.
This theme is presented funnily. The humour is elevated when the parrot says what his plans are.
I'll wait and see and choose a time
When everyone is present ‘
The parrot is going to speak when all friends, relatives and the family members are present. This is the right time for him to talk because he is going to reveal all the family secrets in front of all.
‘... and give a squawk and start to speak
And go on for about a week
And this will not be pleasant'
This is unreal and absurd. But if we imagine that a situation like this would really happen, we can imagine the embarrassment the family is going to feel. It is going to be an amusing episode for the onlookers. The parrot who has been watching what's happening around him and hearing everything, is going to speak. The imagined picture creates a funny aspect, as we know a family can have many secrets and weaknesses. They may show pretence and brag about their possessions. It can outwardly show a false picture of itself. To the outside world it can be a well mannered, good hearted, polished with all the other strengths. But there can be many weaknesses and shameful things the family want to hide from their friends and relatives. The parrot is going to reveal these weaknesses.
" and it will not be pleasant''
The bird is going to take his revenge through this action. The idea creates funny images but we can also see the unrealistic nature of this.
The poem is written with simple diction. The first person narration helps the reader to sense the inner feelings of the caged bird. The use of direct speech gives a dramatic element to the poem and enhances the humour.
The family say, ‘'Oh yes,
He's silent but he is listening
He thinks more than he says''
The first four stanzas are quatrains with an irregular rhyming pattern. The last stanza has six lines. This is perhaps to match the lengthy speech the parrot is going to give.
‘and go on for about a week'
The poet calls the bird ‘He' instead of the usual feminine pronoun connected with a parrot. This reveals that this bird is a tough and strong one. The word ‘squawk' heightens the manly touch given to the bird. This adds to the amusing element of the poem. But this is also a technique to show the remorseful and angry thoughts of a captured bird.
The repetition of the word ‘and ‘ in the beginning of the last four lines and in the middle adds to the rhythm of the poem.

‘And give a sqwalk and start to speak
And go on for about a week
And it will not be pleasant'
It also helps to brings out the anger of the bird and the continuity of his planned speech. It is an unimaginable situation. This unreality creates the humorous and the absurd effect. Yet, the poet also gives the serious message that cruelty towards animals should be avoided.


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