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Exchanging Hats Analysis

Author: poem of Elizabeth Bishop Type: poem Views: 10

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Unfunny uncles who insist

in trying on a lady's hat,

--oh, even if the joke falls flat,

we share your slight transvestite twist

in spite of our embarrassment.

Costume and custom are complex.

The headgear of the other sex

inspires us to experiment.

Anandrous aunts, who, at the beach

with paper plates upon your laps,

keep putting on the yachtsmen's caps

with exhibitionistic screech,

the visors hanging o'er the ear

so that the golden anchors drag,

--the tides of fashion never lag.

Such caps may not be worn next year.

Or you who don the paper plate

itself, and put some grapes upon it,

or sport the Indian's feather bonnet,

--perversities may aggravate

the natural madness of the hatter.

And if the opera hats collapse

and crowns grow draughty, then, perhaps,

he thinks what might a miter matter?

Unfunny uncle, you who wore a

hat too big, or one too many,

tell us, can't you, are there any

stars inside your black fedora?

Aunt exemplary and slim,

with avernal eyes, we wonder

what slow changes they see under

their vast, shady, turned-down brim.


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