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Poem Analysis

Author: Poetry of Elizabeth Bishop Type: Poetry Views: 401

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About the size of an old-style dollar bill,

American or Canadian,

mostly the same whites, gray greens, and steel grays

--this little painting (a sketch for a larger one?)

has never earned any money in its life.

Useless and free, it has spent seventy years

as a minor family relichanded along collaterally to owners

who looked at it sometimes, or didn't bother to.It must be Nova Scotia; only there

does one see abled wooden houses

painted that awful shade of brown.

The other houses, the bits that show, are white.

Elm trees, low hills, a thin church steeple

--that gray-blue wisp--or is it? In the foreground

a water meadow with some tiny cows,

two brushstrokes each, but confidently cows;

two minuscule white geese in the blue water,

back-to-back, feeding, and a slanting stick.

Up closer, a wild iris, white and yellow,

fresh-squiggled from the tube.

The air is fresh and cold; cold early spring

clear as gray glass; a half inch of blue sky

below the steel-gray storm clouds.

(They were the artist's specialty.)

A specklike bird is flying to the left.

Or is it a flyspeck looking like a bird?Heavens, I recognize the place, I know it!

It's behind--I can almost remember the farmer's name.

His barn backed on that meadow. There it is,

titanium white, one dab. The hint of steeple,

filaments of brush-hairs, barely there,

must be the Presbyterian church.

Would that be Miss Gillespie's house?

Those particular geese and cows

are naturally before my time.A sketch done in an hour, "in one breath,"

once taken from a trunk and handed over.


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