Category Archives: Elizabeth Bishop

Pensive, penitential, plural-y

“Plural-y”? I dunno.


1. Get you to The Word Shop Blog:  The blog featuring the work of the high school students whom Lara and I have begun to teach The Poetry. The blog so happening that it will doubtless force me to stop utilizing the word “happening” on anything approaching a regular basis.

2. My friend Fischer sent me an e-mail on Monday morning which simply said: “What’s the word, thunderbird?”

3. This morning, on the train, I looked out of the window and saw an absolutely and obliteratingly enormous cloud bank, low to the ground, encircling half the city. Perhaps you saw this cloud bank, too. It literally looked like a mountain had sprung from the earth. I felt as though we had been magically transplanted into an entirely different universe; the very trees looked exotic, and they were just plain green trees, starting to be other colors.

I also imagined what Mountain Cloud People would look like, if they built a city up there, and how they would live; but we don’t need to get into all that.

4. Something really, really wonderful–dramatically wonderful, wonderfulness that employed Fate in a significant way, the way that Fate might be employed in, say, a romantic comedy, with some sort of major plot point involving mistaken identity and a missing step-ladder–happened this morning. I have learned that, when these moments of total wonder occur in my life, I do not feel firecrackers in my blood stream, or things of that sort. I feel, instead, the way one might feel when completely submerged underwater, where everything is very quiet and water-colored. Other things make me feel firecrackery-blooded. The big moments move under the surface more slowly.

A-much to do today, no more time for the writing. More soon.

Here is a poem we are reading tomorrow in The Word Shop. This week’s theme is “Love Week.” 

[It is one of my favorites.]


Love’s the boy stood on the burning deck
trying to recite “The boy stood on
the burning deck.” Love’s the son
stood stammering elocution
while the poor ship in flames went down.

Love’s the obstinate boy, the ship,
even the swimming sailors, who
would like a schoolroom platform, too,
or an excuse to stay
on deck. And love’s the burning boy.

Elizabeth Bishop

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