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Large Bad Picture Analysis



Author: poem of Elizabeth Bishop Type: poem Views: 8

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Remembering the Strait of Belle Isle or

some northerly harbor of Labrador,

before he became a schoolteacher

a great-uncle painted a big picture.



Receding for miles on either side

into a flushed, still sky

are overhanging pale blue cliffs

hundreds of feet high,



their bases fretted by little arches,

the entrances to caves

running in along the level of a bay

masked by perfect waves.



On the middle of that quiet floor

sits a fleet of small black ships,

square-rigged, sails furled, motionless,

their spars like burnt match-sticks.



And high above them, over the tall cliffs'

semi-translucent ranks,

are scribbled hundreds of fine black birds

hanging in n's in banks.



One can hear their crying, crying,

the only sound there is

except for occasional sizhine

as a large aquatic animal breathes.



In the pink light

the small red sun goes rolling, rolling,

round and round and round at the same height

in perpetual sunset, comprehensive, consoling,



while the ships consider it.

Apparently they have reached their destination.

It would be hard to say what brought them there,

commerce or contemplation.  






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