North Haven Revisited In memoriam Elizabeth Bishop The islands still lay the same As the summer you came to tea, The memory of greetings still linger with the scent of new mown grass, The sun behind the Camden Hills. Voices mingled over crepes and shuffled cards, Over the rustled wind Brown's Head Light warned of fog. As the afternoon grew softer I put another log On the fire. You spoke of the fields alive with lustrife and daisy, The scents of summer never changing. "Two no trump and more tea," Cal smiled, As the afternoon light was fading. Chairs were moved, tea cups rattled, You stuck your head through the kitchen door And said good-bye. I let you go, You and Cal so much a part of me Too late, we didn't even know.
C.Lawry Brown's Questions:
In this memorial poem to the late Elizabeth Bishop, I tried to write in the
slant rhyme that she was so skilled at. I tried making the third and last
lines rhyme or almost rhyme. Do I achieve the "Bishop-like" flow? This is
also a subtle good-bye to Robert Lowell. Is it too subtle or by showing them
together here and knowing of their friendship, is it enough? Do I achieve the
sadness for the loss of these great poets, that I am looking for? North Haven
is an island in Penobscot Bay in Maine. Both poets and many others spent
their summers there.
The Clock It sat in the corner Abandoned, covered in dust. Its deep, rich wood Dull and lifeless, A relic of the past. Its face smudged, blackened From countless winding, The hand-painted numerals And tarnished soul Silently, patiently waiting. The bottom of the glass door Bore a picture -- a tree, A lake and a white house With a picket fence, Symbols of peace and serenity. Many times over the years For whatever reason, Without warning, it would chime. Just once, no more As if wanting recognition. After one such plea I contacted a clock maker To investigate the possibility Of a cleaning and repair, To resuscitate its ticker. Laid carefully on its back With the heavy weights removed, This family member was taken To a very special doctor To fix this one we loved. While cleaning and mending The doctor carefully investigated The writings and dates inside. It was over 150 years old, How well the clock had lasted. My grandmother always said When my great-grandmother was born, The clock was loudly chiming. Its pendulum swung over the past Covering lives that now are gone. It now sits, polished and dusted In a very special place In the dining room, with all The family memories and pictures With a gleam on its face.
C.Lawry Brown's Questions:
Do I portray this as if it were something that was a living family member? I
am trying to show the importance of something that was here twenty years
before the Civil War, that chimed during the birth of countless family members
and still keeps on going. Does it show endurance? I am also trying to rhyme
less and concentrate on content. I do rhyme the second and last lines of each
stanza, not perfectly in most cases, which is on purpose. Does this type of
rhyme work for this piece? Is the last line all right or is it too corny? I
wanted to show that this beloved family member is with all the other cherished
pictures and momentos of the family and that was the way it should be.