Elizabeth Bishop's bodily thoughts

The unpurged images of day recede. [1] I’d like to get away from earth awhile/ and then come back to it and begin over. [2] O to blot out this garden/ to forget, to find new beauty, [3] and I shall have some peace there, for peace camee dripping slow; [4] it melted, and I let it fall and break. [5] This is no country for old men[6] to scare myself with my own desert places.[7]

                        Oh, do no ask “What is it?”[8]

            A mouth that has no moisture and no breath?[9]

            A nightmare dream?[10]

I will show you fear in a handful of dust.[11] The darkness drops again; but now I know[12]  the woods around it have it–it’s theirs,[13] opening and shutting itself like/an/injured fan;[14] hands that grasp[15] old clothes upon old sticks to scare a bird.[16]

The sea grows old in it.[17]

Too long has the taste of its water/been in my mouth,[18]

as if the earth under out feet/ were an excrement of some sky,[19]

and still she cried, and still the world pursues,[20]

that dolphin-torn, that gong-tormented sea,[21]

and now my heart is sore,[22]

and it has to find what will suffice[23]

            (Break the heart of me)[24]

Their time past, /relief![25]

They hurt me. I grow older.[26]

Green is a solace/a promise of peace[27] wad(ing)/through the black jade[28] of a dream deferred,[29] looking into the heart of light, the silence–[30] O Chestnut tree, great rooted blossomer–[31] slashed and torn/but doubly rich–[32] and somewhat more free.[33]

The woodchuck could say whether it’s like his,[34]

            and other withered stumps of time/were told upon the walls[35]

            that it had all seemed happened; and yet we’d grown[36]

            and forced the underbrush–and that was all;[37]

            all suddenly mount(ed)/ and scatter(ed) wheeling in great broken rings[38]

            about the stars and broke in days and years,[39]

            turning and turning in the widening gyre,[40]

spread(ing) into nothing.[41]

All about them/ the cold, unfamiliar wind–[42]

            unless it was the embodiment that crashed[43]

            with the slow smokeless burning of decay,[44]

                                                     burning, burning, burning, burning[45]

                                    or does it explode?[46]

For even daughters of the swan can share[47]

all recognition lost, burnt clean/clean in the flame. [48]

The stars went out and so did the moon.[49]

                                    Does it dry up/like a raisin in the sun?[50]

No one/to witness/and adjust, no one to drive the car.” [51]

“I have had enough.”[52]

“You can’t because you don’t know how to speak.”[53]

What did I say?[54]

            “I’m tired of the bitter river.” [55]

            “I do not think they will sing to me.”[56]

A star glide.[57]

The difference is spreading–[58]

            a change is a change that is remarkable there is no reason to say that there was a time[59] of what is past, or passing, or to come–[60]

Shantih, Shantih, Shantih[61]



[1] William Yeats, “Byzantium.”

[2] Robert Frost, “Birches.”

[3] H.D, “Sheltered Garden.”

[4] William Yeats, “The Love Isle of Innisfree.”

[5] Robert Frost, “After Apple Picking.”

[6] William Yeats, “Sailing to Byzantium”

[7] Robert Frost, “Desert Places.”

[8] T.S Eliot, “The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock.”

[9] William Yeats, “Byzantium.”

[10] Langston Hughes, “Nightmare Boogie.”

[11] T.S Eliot, “The Wasteland.”

[12] William Yeats, “The Second Coming.”

[13] Robert Frost, “Desert Places.”

[14] Marianne Moore, “The Fish.”

[15] Marianne Moore, “Poetry.”

[16] William Yeats, “Among School Children.”

[17] Marianne Moore, “The Fish.”

[18] Langston Hughes, “Bitter River.”

[19] William Williams, “To Elise.”

[20] T.S Eliot, “The Wasteland.”

[21] William Yeats, “Byzantium.”

[22] William Yeats, “The Wild Swans at Coole.”

[23] William Stevens, “Of Modern Poetry,”

[24] Langston Hughes, “Song for a Dark Girl.”

[25] William Williams, “Burning of Christmas Greens.”

[26] Ezra Pound, “The River Merchant’s Wife: A Letter.”

[27] William Williams, “Burning of Christmas Greens.”

[28] Marianne Moore, “The Fish.”

[29] Langston Hughes, “Boogie: 1 A.M.”

[30] T.S Eliot, “The Wasteland”

[31] William Yeats, “Among School Children.”

[32] H.D, “Sea Lily.”

[33] Langston Hughes, “Theme for English B.”

[34] Robert Frost, “After Apple Picking.”

[35] T.S Eliot, “The Wasteland.”

[36] William Yeats, “Adam’s Curse.”

[37] Robert Frost, “The Most of It.”

[38] William Yeats, “The Wild Swans at Coole.”

[39] William Yeats, “Adam’s Curse.”

[40] William Yeats, “The Second Coming.”

[41] Gertrude Stein, “A little bit of a Tumbler.”

[42]  William Williams, “Spring and All.”

[43] Robert Frost, “The Most of It.”

[44] Robert Frost, “Wood Pile.”

[45] T.S Eliot, “Thee Wasteland.”

[46] Langston Hughes, “Harlem.”

[47] William Yeats, “Among School Children.”

[48] William Williams, “Burning the Christmas Greens.”

[49] Langston Hughes, “Weary Blues.” 

[50] Langston Hughes, “Harlem.”

[51] William Williams, “To Elise.”

[52] H.D, “Sheltered Garden.”

[53] Robert Frost, “Home Burial.”

[54] Langston Hughes, “Dream Boogie.”

[55] Langston Hughes, “Bitter River.”

[56] T.S Eliot, “The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock.”

[57] Gertrude Stein, “A waist.”

[58] Gertrude Stein, “A carafe that is not a blind glass.”

[59] Gertrude Stein, “A waist.”

[60] William Yeats, “Sailing to Byzantium.”

[61] T.S Eliot, The Wasteland.”

[61] T.S Eliot, The Wasteland.”

PHOTOGRAPHED BY RACHEL KISER

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