In our society today we have those who choose to lead the way and those who choose to stay off in the distance and follow. A wise man once said,” One man with courage makes a majority,” and in fact this point is only justified in Richard Wilbur’s Still, Citizen Sparrow. Wilbur’s use of stylistic devices such as imagery, diction, tone, and irony help to elude the reader to his major motif.
Wilbur describes a normal situation found in society everyday: we, humans with natural instincts, forming opinions about others around us based on the primary fact that they are a little different from the rest of us. In Still, Citizen Sparrow Wilbur uses the “still, citizen sparrow” to imply the concept of a usual citizen while using the vulture to describe a citizen that thinks just a little bit different than the others. .
Through Wilbur’s diction and imagery he illustrates the idea that the vulture “which [we] call unnatural” and sores “over the rotten office” is actually the most beautiful bird “cruising in heaven’s height.” He furthers his idea describing the “still, citizen sparrow” as being the coward “who dart in orchard aisles” and stays far off in the distance while the “naked-headed one devours death.” Hence Wilbur concludes that it is the vulture, the one the world views as insane, is yet the one he favors. The sparrow the one that the world sees as cautious Wilbur sees as predictable and fearful of death therefore becoming the fool. Although the vulture’s actions may appear as crazy and irrational he is the one that “mocks mutability, has heart to make an end, [and] keeps nature new.” By doing so the vulture becomes the hero relieving space for the new by helping continue the decomposition process.
Wilbur further illuminates his displeasure with the sparrow and by using an illustration from the Holy Bible and the story of Noah and his ark. Noah was commanded by God to produce an ark that “shall be three hundred cubits, the breadth of it fifty cubits, and the height of it thirty cubits” and the ark shall hold “two of every sort” of animal as well as himself, his wife, his sons, and sons” wives.