I was saying it to stop the sensation of falling off the round, turning world. into cold, blue-black space.
But I felt: you are an I, you are an Elizabeth, you are one of them.
Why should you be one, too?
I scarcely dared to look to see what it was I was.
I gave a sidelong glance
--I couldn't look any higher-- at shadowy gray knees, trousers and skirts and boots and different pairs of hands lying under the lamps.
I knew that nothing stranger had ever happened, that nothing stranger could ever happen.
Elizabeth Bishop was born and raised in Worcester Massachusetts. She is most well know because of her relatable and witty way of writing in her poems. At a very young age her father died and her mother was committed to a mental asylum which caused her to be independent as she got older and helped her strive to be a good poet. One of her most famous poems for which she won a Pulitzer prize is “north and South.”
I am in need of music that would flow
Over my fretful, feeling fingertips,
Over my bitter-tainted, trembling lips,
With melody, deep, clear, and liquid-slow.
Oh, for the healing swaying, old and low,
Of some song sung to rest the tired dead,
A song to fall like water on my head,
And over quivering limbs, dream flushed to glow!
There is a magic made by melody:
A spell of rest, and quiet breath, and cool
Heart, that sinks through fading colors deep
To the subaqueous stillness of the sea,
And floats forever in a moon-green pool,
Held in the arms of rhythm and of sleep.
In Worcester, Massachusetts,
I went with Aunt Consuelo to keep her dentist's appointment and sat and waited for her in the dentist's waiting room.
It was winter. It got dark early. The waiting room was full of grown-up people, arctics and overcoats, lamps and magazines.
My aunt was inside what seemed like a long time and while I waited and read the National Geographic
(I could read) and carefully studied the photographs: the inside of a volcano, black, and full of ashes; then it was spilling over in rivulets of fire.
Osa and Martin Johnson dressed in riding breeches, laced boots, and pith helmets.
A dead man slung on a pole
"Long Pig," the caption said.
Babies with pointed heads wound round and round with string; black, naked women with necks wound round and round with wire like the necks of light bulbs.
Their breasts were horrifying.
I read it right straight through.
I was too shy to stop.
And then I looked at the cover: the yellow margins, the date.
Suddenly, from inside, came an oh! of pain
--Aunt Consuelo's voice-- not very loud or long.
I wasn't at all surprised; even then I knew she was a foolish, timid woman.
I might have been embarrassed,