Still Citizen Sparrow Critical Appreciation | Stanza by Stanza

Still Citizen Sparrow Critical Appreciation

“Still Citizen Sparrow” is a picture that interprets to reveal a hidden and symbolic meaning as revealed by its critical appreciation/analysis. Richard Wilbur has sketched contemporary modern life in this poem due to which it becomes an allegory of modern life. Richard Wilbur sheds light on old false belief that sparrow is beautiful whereas vulture is an ugly creature. He reintroduces vulture to his readers and with solid arguments proves that vulture is better than sparrow from every perspective. He directly addresses the sparrow who calls himself civilized. In his eyes so called civilization has no importance. As a whole the poem is modern in nature and the poet has demonstrated truth through picturesque words.

Still Citizen Sparrow Critical Appreciation/Analysis:

Modern poetry is the poetry of symbols. One has to go through deeper meanings of the poem in order to understand it completely. Sparrow is symbol of traditional people who remain away from the truth. They remain true to old traditions instead of new truths. Some old truths are actually based on lie. In “Still Citizen Sparrow”, the poet does critical analysis as well as appreciation of new truth. Rather than sticking to old beliefs one must research and seek truth. Unlike other poems of Richard Wilbur, this poem has a unique idea. It is not just his philosophy but a truth that people should accept.

Click to read summary of “Still Citizen Sparrow” by Richard Wilbur instead of its critical appreciation/analysis.

Still Citizen Sparrow Critical Appreciation/Analysis of Title:

Title of the poem is much interesting. The sparrow calls himself citizen [civilized]. Meaning thereby that the sparrow still calls himself a civilized creature. However, it is not true. When readers read complete poem they realize that sparrow is no more civilized. Rather he is vulture that is civilized because he makes the civilization pure and fresh while doing the ugly work. The poet does appreciation of vulture along with analysis of his critical and dirty work and then humorously asks is sparrow still citizen [civilized]? He does nothing but still called civilized. Vulture performs the useful task but is used as symbol of meanness.

Stanza I:

The poem starts with an address to a sparrow. Sparrow considers himself very civilized. On the other hand, society considers vulture an uncivilized ugly creature. The poet gives arguments in favour of vulture. He has many tasks to complete whereas sparrow on the other hand is useless at all. It does nothing except survival. Nothing is done on his part for the beneficial of humanity or other lively creatures.

Richard Wilbur wants to say that vulture is far better than the sparrow because apparent beauty does not matter. One should be known in the society because of his work and not because of his apparent beauty. He has sound knowledge of human psyche. He also understands nature of birds. Hence, he explains vulture in a positive sense. His tone is defensive in the whole poem.

It is matter of fact that in literature writers and poets refer and symbolize sparrow for positive values whereas vulture has become symbol of negativity, meanness and ugliness. The poet differentiates right from the wrong. He says that stop considering vulture an uncivilized and ugly creature and don’t exaggerate the beauty of sparrow. Richard Wilbur emphasizes the importance of deeper and inner truth.

“Still Citizen Sparrow” Critical Appreciation of Stanza II:

Apparently the vulture is not beautiful but the work he does is the most beautiful thing in the world. He exaggerates his efforts and says that no bird can match the unique work and usefulness of the vulture. Furthermore, he is not under the influence of anyone. He does his duty devotedly and sincerely as per his own wish.

No bird can match vulture as it does his duty with complete responsibility. Vulture symbolizes for low grade people who do lots of efforts and are beneficial for society but no one remembers their work. The poet demonstrates in “Still Citizen Sparrow” that one should do critical analysis and appreciation of truth from new perspectives and give respect to valuable persons of society.

Stanza III:

Instead of raising finger on vulture and pointing out his shortcomings, the sparrow should count his good qualities. The poet then counts the useless activities of sparrow. Sparrow wanders here and there whole day. He spends days in orchards. His work has no quality because it servers no useful purpose. On the opposite, vulture does the ugly work. Moreover, his duty is hard. He faces every natural problem and gets ready to find a solution. In fact, he is vulture that keeps the society clean. He cleans harmful waste and keeps the city clean from diseases. In this way, it has become duty of vulture to maintain fresh atmosphere and he does his duty well.

“Still Citizen Sparrow” Critical Appreciation of Stanza IV:

The poet then compares efforts of Noah and vulture. While calling the sparrow “childheart”, he says that Noah worked hard and built up his Ark. He cut down trees and made a large ship. Hammers’ and saws’s sound was much bitter for the birds. It has disturbed sweet songs of birds. However, the poet says that ignore it for a while and remember the hard work of Noah.

Vulture is sincere and honest to his work just like Noah. Richard Wilbur remembers the very first work that the vulture has done at the time of Noah’s flood. It disposed off the dead bodies. Secondly the vulture has a watchful nature as it keeps eye on everything while flying.

Vulture like a sweeper cleans the society but sweepers are treated as uglier persons. They have not much respect in society. However, Richard Wilbur appreciates their work and gives solid arguments in their favour while symbolizing them vultures.

Stanza V:

Noah had the courage to make a huge ship. He courageously saw the towns drowned in tsunami. He took many people to great heights. Noah did a wonderful job and vulture is doing the same. He was directed to save the earth from evil and the vulture is ordered to purge the earth from death and carrion. Vulture is selected one like Noah was selected to save the world. The sparrow should put his feet in vulture’s shoes and must do critical analysis and appreciation of his work.


Critical analysis/appreciation of “Still Citizen Sparrow” shows that Richard Wilbur wants his readers to think and develop new thoughts. Things that seem negative must have positive meanings. He demonstrates positive side of vulture’s work.

Structure of every stanza is traditional. Although Richard Wilbur has presented new idea yet his style is contemporary. . Images of the poem provoke senses and emotions due to which imagery of the poem becomes thoughtful.

Related Questions:

  • Write critical analysis/appreciation of “Still Citizen Sparrow” by Richard Wilbur.
  • “Still Citizen Sparrow” is a picture that interprets to reveal a hidden and symbolic meaning, answer with reference to its critical appreciation/analysis.