Tuesday, April 20, 2004

Elizabeth Bishop has been getting fresh attention of late, according to this piece in the New Criterion. Her predecessor as Consultant in Poetry, Léonie Adams, remains relatively obscure. Her works are out of print and only a few are available online.

April Mortality

Rebellion shook an ancient dust,
And bones bleached dry of rottenness
Said: Heart, be bitter still, nor trust
The earth, the sky in their bright dress.

Heart, heart, dost thou break to know
This anguish thou wilt bear alone?
We sang of it an age ago,
And traced it dimly upon stone.

With all the drifting race of men
Thou also art begot to mourn
That she is crucified again,
The lonely Beauty yet unborn.

And if thou dreamest to have won
Some touch of her in permanence,
'T is the old cheating of the sun,
The intricate lovely play of sense.

Be bitter still, remember how
Four petals, when a little breath
Of wind made stir the pear-tree bough,
Blew delicately down to death.
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