Symbolism of Hummingbird in Literature
Hummingbird as symbolism in literature is rare but used worldwide to express beauty. They are depicted as captivating creatures in art as well as written literature, such as legends, folklore, and mythologies. One of the most depicted symbols of hummingbirds is simplicity. Hummingbirds are usually carefree birds untroubled by their surroundings. Thus, in literature, hummingbirds are never shown as negative symbols. They are often written or shown as representative of continuation or infinity. The word hummingbird means a bird that ‘hums’. The word was first heard or discovered in the 1680s, to identify hummingbirds’ sound made from the vibration of wings. In Latin, hummingbirds are called ‘Mellisuga’ derived from Mellis, and sugere means ‘to suck honey’. However, in European countries, the birds are called ‘kolibri’ in German and ‘colibri’ in French languages, which can be translated as shining surface.
Healing and Hope
Hummingbird is a symbol of healing and health as they are known to pollinate flowers extending their life force. They are alongside bees and are known to maintain balance in nature. Green hummingbirds are particularly a symbol of health and perseverance. According to the Mayan culture, hummingbirds had magical healing powers in their wings. Shaman tradition also considers a hummingbird as a representative of healing as they carry the healing herbs and flowers they consume. Native American tribes also believe hummingbirds are messengers of healing energy and are born in flowers. In Christianity, hummingbird represents hope along with healing, especially as these birds are indirectly described as creatures who spread hope.
Hummingbirds are also symbols of messengers or spiritual guides. Especially in Native American culture, hummingbirds are believed to be messengers from heaven, along with butterflies who can carry messages from the living world to the other side. The Caribbeans also consider hummingbirds as spirit guides, messengers sent by loved ones, or a creature who can carry the souls of loved ones. Hummingbirds carry the message of great power. According to Mayans, hummingbirds were chosen to be special messengers because of their agility and size. Christians believe that hummingbirds can carry messages from and to their deceased loved ones.
Hummingbirds are a perfect symbol of happiness with their vibrant colors despite their tiny bodies. A hummingbird represents joy and happiness in Native American culture, especially red and purple hummingbirds. In Chinese folklore, the hummingbird is considered a creature that can carry the spirit of happiness as it flutters around the sun in prominent artworks. Additionally, in art, when artists paint hummingbirds above or beside flowers, it symbolizes happiness, especially in small things or joys of life.
All Hummingbirds have beautiful and colorful birds that hover around flowers or sap of the trees, thus symbolizing otherworldly beauty. According to Central American beliefs, the sun transformed itself into a hummingbird as it fell in love with the beauty of the moon and chose a woman’s form. The Native Americans also believe that hummingbirds represent beauty because they fly gracefully both forward and backward, unlike other birds. Hummingbird figurines or totems are gifted to someone as a reminder of beauty and happiness. In Christianity as well, a hummingbird symbolizes beauty and wonder, which are inspired by both north and south American cultures.
Hummingbirds are considered a symbol of luck in many cultures. Especially in Chinese Feng Shui traditions, hummingbird is known to bring good vibes, purity, and good luck. Dreaming of hummingbirds also bring good luck either in career or personal growth. Also, a hummingbird has vibrant colors, including all rainbow colors, that are known to symbolize positive energy or ‘chi’ in Chinese culture.
Seeing a hummingbird is a symbol of spirituality or connected to a supernatural experience. Mayans believe hummingbirds can carry spiritual messages between words. According to Native Americans, hummingbirds created the energy that connected heaven and the earth. They also believe that hummingbirds can travel between these realms. Shamanic culture also believes that hummingbirds can move between worlds and communicate with spirit worlds. If a person sees a hummingbird in any color, it is a sign of a spiritual guidance.
Hummingbirds are also symbols of everlasting love. According to Christianity, if he or she sees a hummingbird, it means a recently deceased loved one has made it to heaven. According to Cherokee legend, a hummingbird retrieved a tobacco plant to the tribe to save a woman from evil, Dagul’ku. Also, hummingbirds were a symbol of love in Aztec culture. A visit from a hummingbird represents the flow of universal love.
Examples of Hummingbird as Symbolism in Literature
Hummingbird by Raymond Carver
Suppose I say summer,
write the workd ‘hummingbird’
put it in an envelope,
take it down the hill
to the box. when you open
my letter you will recall
those days and how much,
just how much, I love you
In this poem, the hummingbird symbolizes beauty and love as the poet uses the bird to express his feelings in the letter and also mentions that he’d send a hummingbird in the letter to describe the love.
Seasons by John Haag
Then a scurry
A lamentation of geese
Hummingbird leaves in the early
to cruise dusk
In this example, the poet probably remembers a loved one as he mentions the lamenting of geese. Hence the hummingbird represents a spirit guide or a messenger that can carry a message to the person who has passed away.
Her Garden by Donald Hall
I let her garden go.
let it go, let it go
How can I watch the hummingbird
Hover to sip
With its beak’s tip
The purple bee balm—whirring as we heard
It years ago?
The weeds rise rank and thick
let it go, let it go
Where annuals grew and burdock grows,
Where standing she
At once could see
The peony, the lily, and the rose
Rise over brick
The poem describes the movement of a hummingbird in the garden which is along with bees and flowers in the garden. Hence, the hummingbird here symbolizes beauty, hope, and happiness.
In Sainte-Anne, Guadeloupe by Quincy Troupe
(for Jacques-Marie Basse and Derek Walcott)
we wake to days in august bright with emerald
foliage shimmering around us,
as if we were living in a lost paradise
somewhere, abundant with wild hummingbirds darting
through extravagant leaves, as orange flamboyance peek,
red hibiscus flowers dance high among the leaves,
as shining palm fronds wave like warrior sword blades,
lance through lush, whispering air heavy with heat,
sticky, even in the shade,
In this example, the hummingbird symbolizes beauty, vibrance, joy, and happiness as it shines in the daylight while flying over the bright and colorful flowers.
Princess Academy by Shannon Hale
She spoke quickly, her tongue feeling like a hummingbird’s wing; she was so afraid of boring him if she took too long.
In this example, the writer describes her tongue fluttering or vibrating as if it is a hummingbird, using a simile. It symbolizes possible humor and mystery as the speaker doesn’t want the listener to suffer boredom and rushes her words.
The House of the Seven Gables by nathaniel hawthorne
She said that it had always been thus with Clifford when the hummingbirds came, -always from his babyhood,-and that his delight in them had been one of the earliest tokens by which he showed his love for beautiful things.
In this example, hummingbirds are symbols of transformation, messengers as well as beauty as the speaker describes the love for beautiful things while seeing the hummingbird in the garden.
The Memory Palace by Mira Bartok
Some of my old memories feel trapped in amber in my brain, lucid and burning, while others are like the wing beat of a hummingbird, an intangible, ephemeral blur.
Here the hummingbird represents beauty, a spirit guide, and a messenger as it can carry memories of a person and move between past and present experiences.
The New England Butt’ry Shelf Cookbook: Receipts for Very Special Occasions by Tasha Tudor
Hummingbirds and flowers go together like summertime and fireflies, like rainbows and sunshine.
Here hummingbirds symbolize happiness, beauty, and hope as they are also compared to the other beauty of nature.