The thing with feathers

Emily Dickinson surely must have been an avid bird-watcher. We know, because she wrote so much about birds and used them as images so often when she wrote about other matters. In A Spicing of Birds, birders and writers Jo Miles Schuman and Joanna Bailey Hodgman have paired some of Dickinson’s poems with illustrations by some of the earliest American masters of avian art. With Louis Agassiz Fuertes’ full-color illustration of woodpeckers directly facing Dickinson’s “His Bill an Auger is / His Head, a Cap and Frill,” we can see that, yes, indeed, it’s so. Other illustrators include Cordelia J. Stanwood, Mark Catesby, Allan Brooks and, of course, John James Audubon. It is a delightful pairing of timeless poems with timeless images, as Robert Ridgway’s illustration of a bobolink helps us see how “Some keep the Sabbath in Surplice— / I just wear my Wings—.”