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Classic and Contemporary Poetry: Explained

FABLE; ROME, 1875, by             Poet Analysis     Poet's Biography

"Fable; Rome, 1875" by Thomas Bailey Aldrich is a short narrative poem that conveys a timeless moral lesson through the allegorical tale of a bird whose singing evokes jealousy and ultimately leads to its demise. The poem utilizes a straightforward and lyrical style, capturing the reader with its clarity and brevity, yet leaves an echoing resonance with its profound message.

Set within a woodland scene during spring, the poem tells of a bird with a beautiful voice that sings melodiously, stirring jealousy among its peers. The other birds, resentful of the melodious voice, conspire and kill the bird, extinguishing its enchanting song. This simple yet profound fable encapsulates themes of envy, competition, and the tragic consequences of destructive emotions.


Envy and Resentment: The other birds' reaction to the song represents the corrosive nature of envy. Their appreciation of the song's beauty quickly turns into resentment and a desire to silence the bird, a reaction that underscores the destructive power of jealousy.

Individuality and Conformity: The bird's unique and beautiful song sets it apart from its peers. Its distinct voice can be seen as a symbol of individuality and creativity, and the violent reaction of the other birds reflects society's often hostile response to those who stand out.

Violence and Loss: The violent end to the melodious bird's life serves as a cautionary tale about the consequences of succumbing to negative emotions. The loss of the bird's song is a poignant reminder of the irrevocable nature of certain actions and the potential loss of beauty and goodness in the world.

Structure and Style

The poem follows a simple and clear narrative structure, told in rhyming couplets that contribute to its fable-like quality. The language is direct and unembellished, fitting for a fable designed to convey a moral lesson.


The Singing Bird: Symbolizes individuality, talent, and uniqueness. Its melodious song represents the beauty and purity that can be found within individual expression.

The Other Birds: Represent conformity, jealousy, and the tendency to suppress what is different or superior. Their sharp beaks and hardy wings symbolize aggression and a readiness to attack what they perceive as a threat.

The English Daisy: Mentioned at the poem's end, it stands as a memorial to the lost bird and its beautiful song, symbolizing remembrance and the lingering impact of the tragic tale.


"Fable; Rome, 1875" by Thomas Bailey Aldrich is a poignant and succinct poem that weaves a cautionary tale about the perils of envy and the suppression of individuality. Its allegorical nature invites readers to reflect on their own attitudes and behaviors, while its vivid imagery and lyrical quality make it a memorable and engaging read.

In its brevity, the poem manages to encapsulate profound truths about human nature and the societal pressures that can lead to violence and loss. It serves as a timeless reminder to appreciate beauty and individuality, to resist the pull of destructive emotions, and to recognize the potential consequences of our actions.

In essence, Aldrich's fable provides a thoughtful meditation on the human condition, capturing the reader's attention with its simplicity and leaving a lingering impact with its profound wisdom. It stands as a literary tribute to the virtues of tolerance, appreciation, and empathy, qualities that remain as relevant today as they were in 1875.

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