Tuesday, August 26, 2008

The Armadillo by Elizabeth Bishop For Robert Lowell

The Armadillo    
                by Elizabeth Bishop

For Robert Lowell

This is the time of year

when almost every night

the frail, illegal fire balloons appear.

Climbing the mountain height,


rising toward a saint

still honored in these parts,

the paper chambers flush and fill with light

that comes and goes, like hearts.


Once up against the sky it's hard

to tell them from the stars—

planets, that is—the tinted ones:

Venus going down, or Mars,


or the pale green one.  With a wind,

they flare and falter, wobble and toss;

but if it's still they steer between

the kite sticks of the Southern Cross,


receding, dwindling, solemnly

and steadily forsaking us,

or, in the downdraft from a peak,

suddenly turning dangerous.


Last night another big one fell.

It splattered like an egg of fire

against the cliff behind the house.

The flame ran down.  We saw the pair


of owls who nest there flying up

and up, their whirling black-and-white

stained bright pink underneath, until

they shrieked up out of sight.


The ancient owls' nest must have burned.

Hastily, all alone,

a glistening armadillo left the scene,

rose-flecked, head down, tail down,


and then a baby rabbit jumped out,

short-eared, to our surprise.

So soft!—a handful of intangible ash

with fixed, ignited eyes.


Too pretty, dreamlike mimicry!

O falling fire and piercing cry

and panic, and a weak mailed fist

clenched ignorant against the sky!

One Art by Elizabeth Bishop

One Art       
        by Elizabeth Bishop

The art of losing isn't hard to master;

so many things seem filled with the intent

to be lost that their loss is no disaster.


Lose something every day. Accept the fluster

of lost door keys, the hour badly spent.

The art of losing isn't hard to master.


Then practice losing farther, losing faster:

places, and names, and where it was you meant

to travel. None of these will bring disaster.


I lost my mother's watch. And look! my last, or

next-to-last, of three loved houses went.

The art of losing isn't hard to master.


I lost two cities, lovely ones. And, vaster,

some realms I owned, two rivers, a continent.

I miss them, but it wasn't a disaster.


--Even losing you (the joking voice, a gesture

I love) I shan't have lied.  It's evident

the art of losing's not too hard to master

though it may look like (Write it!) like disaster.

Einfall

 Trap door.          "Do not drift into despair"                              Rather says. Nexus.          Moments of clarity,    ...

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