"A Bird Came Down the Walk" by Emily Dickinson

A bird came down the walk:
He did not know I saw;
He bit an angle-worm in halves
And ate the fellow, raw.
And then he drank a dew
From a convenient grass,
And then hopped sidewise to the wall
To let a beetle pass.
He glanced with rapid eyes
That hurried all abroad, —
They looked like frightened beads, I thought;
He stirred his velvet head
Like one in danger; cautious,
I offered him a crumb,
And he unrolled his feathers
And rowed him softer home
Than oars divide the ocean,
Too silver for a seam,
Or butterflies, off banks of noon,
Leap, splashless, as they swim.

Poems of Emily Dickinson Second Series by Emily Dickinson (1891) | Emily Dickinson (1830–1886)


  • Read this one aloud with younger children.
  • Older students can study the poem:
    • How does the bird act when it is not being observed?
    • How does it act when it is observed?
    • Make a compare/contrast chart to detail the differences.
    • There several literary devices used in the poem. Locate two of them, copy them on paper, and then create examples of your own demonstrating the use of the same devices. (Examples: Alliteration second stanza: drank a dew; simile: they looked like frightened beads, like one in danger; metaphor: that hurried all abroad, rowed him softer home, leap splashless as they swim.) See resources below.
    • Identify a line, stanza, and verse.
    • Identify the rhyme scheme (ABAB).
  • Rewrite the poem as prose (tell the story).
  • Observe a bird. Write a poem similar to “A Bird Came Down the Walk.”
  • Create an author page for Dickinson.

Additional Resources

Poetry Dictionary for Kids
Terms, literary devices, and more.

14 Forms of Writing for the Older Student: Poetry
Ideas for studying Dickinson’s poetry.

14 Forms of Writing for the Older Student: Descriptive Narrative
Helps for writing the poem as prose.

Before I Got My Eye Put Out: The Poetry of Emily Dickinson
This is an excellent video for older students from Crash Course Literature. You may want to preview.

Poetry for Young People Dickinson

Poetry for Young People: Emily Dickinson
We love these books. The point of the book is to introduce young students to poetry at an early age. It takes the mystery out of poetry, making it accessible. So don’t expect detailed poetical analysis. Simply read and enjoy. There is a fruitful payoff over time….

Units & Lesson Plans

Emily Dickinson
High school lesson plans that explore metaphor, poetical analysis, performance, and more by studying the poetry of Emily Dickinson. Great resource!

Free Nature Studies: Our Wonderful World
These are the bird sections from our free nature study with resources and more for studying a bird:

Printables and Notebooking Pages

Emily Dickinson Worksheet
From BrainPop.com that explores metaphor.

Graphic Orgnizer
For analyzing Dickinson’s poetry as described above.

Author Notebooking Paper
Create an author page for Emily Dickinson.

Online Poetry Anthology
Online Poetry Anthology

Create a website or blog at WordPress.com