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The Imaginary Iceberg Analysis

Author: poem of Elizabeth Bishop Type: poem Views: 15

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We'd rather have the iceberg than the ship,

although it meant the end of travel.

Although it stood stock-still like cloudy rock

and all the sea were moving marble.

We'd rather have the iceberg than the ship;

we'd rather own this breathing plain of snow

though the ship's sails were laid upon the sea

as the snow lies undissolved upon the water.

O solemn, floating field,

are you aware an iceberg takes repose

with you, and when it wakes may pasture on your snows?

This is a scene a sailor'd give his eyes for.

The ship's ignored. The iceberg rises

and sinks again; its glassy pinnacles

correct elliptics in the sky.

This is a scene where he who treads the boards

is artlessly rhetorical. The curtain

is light enough to rise on finest ropes

that airy twists of snow provide.

The wits of these white peaks

spar with the sun. Its weight the iceberg dares

upon a shifting stage and stands and stares.

The iceberg cuts its facets from within.

Like jewelry from a grave

it saves itself perpetually and adorns

only itself, perhaps the snows

which so surprise us lying on the sea.

Good-bye, we say, good-bye, the ship steers off

where waves give in to one another's waves

and clouds run in a warmer sky.

Icebergs behoove the soul

(both being self-made from elements least visible)

to see them so: fleshed, fair, erected indivisible.


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