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A Prodigal Analysis



Author: Poetry of Elizabeth Bishop Type: Poetry Views: 384

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A Cold Spring1955The brown enormous odor he lived by

was too close, with its breathing and thick hair,

for him to judge. The floor was rotten; the sty

was plastered halfway up with glass-smooth dung.

Light-lashed, self-righteous, above moving snouts,

the pigs' eyes followed him, a cheerful stare--

even to the sow that always ate her young--

till, sickening, he leaned to scratch her head.

But sometimes mornings after drinking bouts

(he hid the pints behind the two-by-fours),

the sunrise glazed the barnyard mud with red

the burning puddles seemed to reassure.

And then he thought he almost might endure

his exile yet another year or more.But evenings the first star came to warn.

The farmer whom he worked for came at dark

to shut the cows and horses in the barn

beneath their overhanging clouds of hay,

with pitchforks, faint forked lightnings, catching light,

safe and companionable as in the Ark.

The pigs stuck out their little feet and snored.

The lantern--like the sun, going away--

laid on the mud a pacing aureole.

Carrying a bucket along a slimy board,

he felt the bats' uncertain staggering flight,

his shuddering insights, beyond his control,

touching him. But it took him a long time

finally to make up his mind to go home.






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