Elizabeth Bishop

(8 February 1911 – 6 October 1979 / Worcester, Massachusetts)

Anaphora


Each day with so much ceremony
begins, with birds, with bells,
with whistles from a factory;
such white-gold skies our eyes
first open on, such brilliant walls
that for a moment we wonder
'Where is the music coming from, the energy?
The day was meant for what ineffable creature
we must have missed? ' Oh promptly he
appears and takes his earthly nature
   instantly, instantly falls
   victim of long intrigue,
   assuming memory and mortal
   mortal fatigue.

More slowly falling into sight
and showering into stippled faces,
darkening, condensing all his light;
in spite of all the dreaming
squandered upon him with that look,
suffers our uses and abuses,
sinks through the drift of bodies,
sinks through the drift of classes
to evening to the beggar in the park
who, weary, without lamp or book
   prepares stupendous studies:
   the fiery event
   of every day in endless
   endless assent.

Submitted: Friday, January 03, 2003
Edited: Thursday, May 02, 2013

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Read poems about / on: memory, music, nature, light, dream, sky

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Comments about this poem (Anaphora by Elizabeth Bishop )

  • Bronze Star - 2,377 Points Michael Morgan (10/19/2014 11:38:00 AM)

    traces ethereal life-journey from its beginning in limitless potential to its hard-scrapple comeuppance in reality, at day's end.. A rich and characteristically whimsical comment on the human condition. Equals Milton's translation of the Horace ode. Not so hard to memorize, either- always a good prognostic in a poem. Superb, and (maybe) under-appreciated. (Report) Reply

  • Bronze Star - 2,377 Points Michael Morgan (9/24/2013 10:41:00 PM)

    One of the greatest poems in the English language! . Avowedly non-political and imaginative. MM (Report) Reply

  • Rookie - 9 Points John Hardesty (7/2/2013 2:11:00 PM)

    I'm quite sure that poem wasn't Pulitzer material, though, rolls of boredom! I pass on this one! ! (Report) Reply

  • Rookie Evon Christian (5/25/2007 2:42:00 PM)

    Anaphora, the name of this title is so rich and beautiful that I am certain few understand.
    An anaphora is a poetical device, if you will-a repetition of words, that creates a sentimentality towards those words.
    In this poem the anaphors are 'mortal' and 'endless', so please, reread this poem and pay special attention to those two words.
    Elizabeth Bishop was a beautiful genius, and this poem is a true example to that. (Report) Reply

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