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The Map Analysis



Author: Poetry of Elizabeth Bishop Type: Poetry Views: 146

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North & South1946Land lies in water; it is shadowed green.

Shadows, or are they shallows, at its edges

showing the line of long sea-weeded ledges

where weeds hang to the simple blue from green.

Or does the land lean down to lift the sea from under,

drawing it unperturbed around itself?

Along the fine tan sandy shelf

is the land tugging at the sea from under?The shadow of Newfoundland lies flat and still.

Labrador's yellow, where the moony Eskimo

has oiled it. We can stroke these lovely bays,

under a glass as if they were expected to blossom,

or as if to provide a clean cage for invisible fish.

The names of seashore towns run out to sea,

the names of cities cross the neighboring mountains

--the printer here experiencing the same excitement

as when emotion too far exceeds its cause.

These peninsulas take the water between thumb and finger

like women feeling for the smoothness of yard-goods.Mapped waters are more quiet than the land is,

lending the land their waves' own conformation:

and Norway's hare runs south in agitation,

profiles investigate the sea, where land is.

Are they assigned, or can the countries pick their colors?

--What suits the character or the native waters best.

Topography displays no favorites; North's as near as West.

More delicate than the historians' are the map-makers' colors.





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