Friday, 7 March 2008

elizabeth bishop

Visit to St Elizabeth's

This is the house of Bedlam.

This is the man
that lies in the house of Bedlam.

The is the time
of the tragic man
that lies in the house of Bedlam.

This is a wristwatch
telling the time
of the talkative man
that lies in the house of Bedlam.

This is a sailor
wearing the watch
that tells the time
of the honored man
that lies in the house of Bedlam.

This is the roadstead all of board
reached by the sailor
wearing the watch
that tells the time
of the old, brave man
that lies in the house of Bedlam.

These are the years and the walls of the ward,
the winds and clouds of the sea of board
sailed by the sailor
wearing the watch
that tells the time
of the cranky man
that lies in the house of Bedlam.

This is a Jew in a newspaper hat
that dances weeping down the ward
over the creaking sea of board
beyond the sailor
winding his watch
that tells the time
of the cruel man
that lies in the house of Bedlam.

This is a world of books gone flat.
This is a Jew in a newspaper hat
that dances weeping down the ward
over the creaking sea of board
of the batty sailor
that winds his watch
that tells the time
of the busy man
that lies in the house of Bedlam.

This is a boy that pats the floor
to see if the world is there, is flat,
for the widowed Jew in the newspaper hat
that dances weeping down the ward
waltzing the length of a weaving board
by the silent sailor
that hears his watch
that ticks the time
of the tedious man
that lies in the house of Bedlam.

These are the years and the walls and the door
that shut on a boy that pats the floor
to feel if the world is there and flat.
This is a Jew in a newspaper hat
that dances joyfully down the ward
into the parting seas of board
past the starting sailor
that shakes his watch
that tells the time
of the poet, the man
that lies in the house of Bedlam.

This is the soldier home from the war.
These are the years and the walls and the door
that shut on a boy that pats the floor
to see if the world is round of flat.
This is a Jew in a newspaper hat
that dances carefully down the ward,
walking the plank of a coffin board
with the crazy sailor
that shows his watch
that tells the timeof the wretched man
that lies in the house of Bedlam.

5 comments:

Kubla Khan said...

I know a rhyme, in a foreign tongue that goes like this. it begins with three lines and ends with so many.
goes on to suggest sometimes that nothing is new.
anyway, great poem.
cheers

swiss said...

glad you liked it. apparently the man in question is ezra pound, who bishop went ot visit while he was in st elizabeth's

Sorlil said...

I presume they're not using my stunning translation for the StAnza masterclass having not heard anything, how bout you?

Sorlil said...

to my ear it's based on 'This is the house that Jack built' - I hear this at least once a day!

swiss said...

i'm not sure what they're about. perhaps they'll just use what they feel like on the day. wouldn't be like creative types if they didn;t leave it until the last minute! lol
will find my version and stick it up later