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Elizabeth Bishop Poetry Essay The Lamb

From narrow provinces   

of fish and bread and tea,   

home of the long tides

where the bay leaves the sea   

twice a day and takes

the herrings long rides,

where if the river

enters or retreats

in a wall of brown foam   

depends on if it meets   

the bay coming in,

the bay not at home;

where, silted red,

sometimes the sun sets   

facing a red sea,

and others, veinsveins Used as a verb: to extend over or mark with lines, as in the manner of veins the flats’   

lavender, rich mud

in burning rivuletsrivulets A small stream or brook;

on red, gravelly roads,

down rows of sugar maples,   

past clapboard farmhouses   

and neat, clapboard churches,   

bleached, ridged as clamshells,   

past twin silver birches,

through late afternoon

a bus journeys west,

the windshield flashing pink,   

pink glancing off of metal,   

brushing the dented flank   

of blue, beat-up enamel;

down hollows, up rises,   

and waits, patient, while   

a lone traveller gives   

kisses and embraces

to seven relatives

and a collie supervises.

Goodbye to the elms,   

to the farm, to the dog.   

The bus starts. The light   

grows richer; the fog,   

shifting, salty, thin,

comes closing in.

Its cold, round crystals   

form and slide and settle   

in the white hens’ feathers,   

in gray glazed cabbages,   

on the cabbage roses

and lupinslupins A tall, flowering plant (Lupinus) in the legume family; its seeds (lupin beans) have been used as food like apostlesapostles A plant native to Brazil with large, fragrant white and purple flowers;

the sweet peas cling

to their wet white string   

on the whitewashed fences;   

bumblebees creep

inside the foxglovesfoxgloves A colorful perennial flower, with cup-shaped buds.,

and evening commences.

One stop at Bass RiverBass River All locations in Nova Scotia near the Bay of Fundy.   

Then the EconomiesEconomies Locations (Lower Economy, Middle Economy, and Upper Economy) in Nova Scotia near the Bay of Fundy—

Lower, Middle, Upper;   

Five IslandsFive Islands All locations in Nova Scotia near the Bay of Fundy, Five HousesFive Houses All locations in Nova Scotia near the Bay of Fundy,

where a woman shakes a tablecloth   

out after supper.

A pale flickering. Gone.   

The Tantramar marshesTantramar marshes On the Chignecto Isthmus connecting Nova Scotia and New Brunswick, Canada

and the smell of salt hay.   

An iron bridge trembles   

and a loose plank rattles   

but doesn’t give way.

On the left, a red light   

swims through the dark:   

a ship’s port lantern.   

Two rubber boots show,   

illuminated, solemn.   

A dog gives one bark.

A woman climbs in

with two market bags,   

brisk, freckled, elderly.   

“A grand night. Yes, sir,   

all the way to Boston.”   

She regards us amicably.

Moonlight as we enter

the New Brunswick woods,   

hairy, scratchy, splintery;   

moonlight and mist

caught in them like lamb’s wool   

on bushes in a pasture.

The passengers lie back.   

Snores. Some long sighs.   

A dreamy divagationdivagations Wanderings

begins in the night,

a gentle, auditory,

slow hallucination....

In the creakings and noises,   

an old conversation

—not concerning us,

but recognizable, somewhere,   

back in the bus:

Grandparents’ voices


talking, in Eternity:

names being mentioned,   

things cleared up finally;   

what he said, what she said,   

who got pensionedpensioned Dismissed from employment, typically because of age or health; paid a pension.;

deaths, deaths and sicknesses;   

the year he remarried;

the year (something) happened.   

She died in childbirth.

That was the son lost

when the schooner founderedschooner foundered A ship that has sunk or filled with water.

He took to drink. Yes.

She went to the bad.

When Amos began to pray   

even in the store and

finally the family had

to put him away.

“Yes ...” that peculiar   

affirmative. “Yes ...”

A sharp, indrawn breath,   

half groan, half acceptance,   

that means “Life’s like that.   

We know it (also death).”

Talking the way they talked   

in the old featherbed,   

peacefully, on and on,

dim lamplight in the hall,   

down in the kitchen, the dog   

tucked in her shawl.

Now, it’s all right now   

even to fall asleep

just as on all those nights.   

—Suddenly the bus driver   

stops with a jolt,

turns off his lights.

A moose has come out of

the impenetrable wood

and stands there, looms, rather,   

in the middle of the road.

It approaches; it sniffs at

the bus’s hot hood.

Towering, antlerless,   

high as a church,

homely as a house

(or, safe as housessafe as houses Totally safe).

A man’s voice assures us   

“Perfectly harmless....”

Some of the passengers   

exclaim in whispers,   

childishly, softly,

“Sure are big creatures.”   

“It’s awful plain.”   

“Look! It’s a she!”

Taking her time,

she looks the bus over,   

grand, otherworldly.   

Why, why do we feel   

(we all feel) this sweet   

sensation of joy?

“Curious creatures,”

says our quiet driver,   

rolling his r’s.

“Look at that, would you.”   

Then he shifts gears.

For a moment longer,

by craning backward,   

the moose can be seen

on the moonlit macadammacadam Road, pavement;   

then there’s a dim

smell of moose, an acridacrid Pungent, irritating

smell of gasoline.

The Poetry of Elizabeth Bishop, and How it Connects to Her Life

781 Words4 Pages

Elizabeth Bishop’s poetry has many characteristics that make it appealing. Her poetry links much with her life; a depressing but interesting one, which saw a troubled childhood, many countries and many awards for her poetry. Her celebrations of the ordinary are another appealing characteristic; an unusual yet original quality. Bishop’s poems have a unique style, with a fine combination of vivid imagery and concrete intense language. In addition to this we see detailed descriptions of the exotic and familiar. The poems themselves, while containing this style constantly, vary in poetic form – this is a welcome change instead of the monotonous form of poetry of other poets on the Leaving Certificate course. Finally, her range of themes adds…show more content…

There is no mother present in the poem, but we are constantly reminded of the need for one. The tone of the narrator is maternal as she begins remarking of the place “Oh, but it is dirty!” and later “Be careful with that match!” The concluding line that “Somebody loves us all” is an ironic lament that while someone even loves the father wearing “a dirty,/ oil-soaked monkey suit” and the “greasy sons”, Bishop has no parents to love her. Bishop had not just to deal with trouble in her personal life, but also the times that she lived in. In The Armadillo she refers to the time of the Cold War, where she doubts the human capacity to deal with unknown capacities. The insurmountable armadillo represents the humans, whom are characterized as brave and unbeatable. However when catastrophe strikes, the armadillo “left the scene,/ rose-flecked, head down, tail down,”. Likewise the humans around Bishop do not attempt to stop the Cold War, only build bomb-shelters to protect themselves. However they are shown in their true form in the concluding stanza, weak against events they cannot control: “Oh falling fire and piercing cry/ and panic, and a weak mailed fist/ clenched ignorant against the sky!” Bishop returns to her own personal problems in In the Waiting Room. Again the poem contains striking similarities to Bishop. There is no mention of parents,

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