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Classic and Contemporary Poetry: Explained

KINGFISHER, by                 Poet's Biography

 "Kingfisher" is a poem by Amy Clampitt, an American poet who lived from 1920 to 1994. The poem was published in 1983 in her collection "The Kingfisher."


The poem is an ode to the kingfisher bird and its habitat. The speaker describes the bird's beauty and grace as it flies and dives into the water. The poem also explores the setting in which the bird lives, including the river, trees, and sky.

Poetic Elements:

  • Form: Free verse
  • Theme: Appreciation for the natural world and its creatures
  • Imagery: Visual descriptions of the kingfisher and its surroundings
  • Tone: Reverential, contemplative
  • Sound: Assonance and alliteration, such as "crackle of leaves," "balding branches," and "up up, whistling and laughing."
  • Language: Precise and descriptive, with occasional poetic diction
  • Structure: Divided into three stanzas of varying lengths
  • Symbolism: The kingfisher bird represents the beauty and fragility of nature.


"Kingfisher" is a vivid and contemplative tribute to a beautiful bird and its habitat. Clampitt's precise and descriptive language helps to create a rich and detailed image of the kingfisher and its surroundings, while the poem's structure and sound contribute to its overall effect of reverence for the natural world.

Poem Snippet:

"Hush, child. Listen,  

the kingfisher rises from the black hole of the river, 

sets the blue sky on fire, leaves a

 snag of smoke in its wake."

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