June 24, 2011

A Miracle For Breakfast

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--Description: 20th C, Bishop E., Humanity, Humor, Life--
At six o'clock we were waiting for coffee,
waiting for coffee and the charitable crumb
that was going to be served from a certain balcony
--like kings of old, or like a miracle.
It was still dark. One foot of the sun
steadied itself on a long ripple in the river.

The first ferry of the day had just crossed the river.
It was so cold we hoped that the coffee
would be very hot, seeing that the sun
was not going to warm us; and that the crumb
would be a loaf each, buttered, by a miracle.
At seven a man stepped out on the balcony.

He stood for a minute alone on the balcony
looking over our heads toward the river.
A servant handed him the makings of a miracle,
consisting of one lone cup of coffee
and one roll, which he proceeded to crumb,
his head, so to speak, in the clouds--along with the sun.

Was the man crazy? What under the sun
was he trying to do, up there on his balcony!
Each man received one rather hard crumb,
which some flicked scornfully into the river,
and, in a cup, one drop of the coffee.
Some of us stood around, waiting for the miracle.

I can tell what I saw next; it was not a miracle.
A beautiful villa stood in the sun
and from its doors came the smell of hot coffee.
In front, a baroque white plaster balcony
added by birds, who nest along the river,
--I saw it with one eye close to the crumb--

and galleries and marble chambers. My crumb
my mansion, made for me by a miracle,
through ages, by insects, birds, and the river
working the stone. Every day, in the sun,
at breakfast time I sit on my balcony
with my feet up, and drink gallons of coffee.

We licked up the crumb and swallowed the coffee.
A window across the river caught the sun
as if the miracle were working, on the wrong balcony.

Elizabeth Bishop

--Did You Know: (8 February 1911 – 6 October 1979) Bishop was an American poet and writer. She was the Poet Laureate of the United States from 1949 to 1950, and a Pulitzer Prize winner in 1956. Elizabeth Bishop House is an artist's retreat in Great Village, Nova Scotia dedicated to her memory. Elizabeth Bishop was born in Worcester, Massachusetts. After her father, a successful builder, died when she was eight months old, Bishop’s mother became mentally ill and was institutionalized in 1916. Bishop would later write about the time of her mother's struggles in her short story "In The Village." Effectively orphaned, during her very early childhood, she lived with her grandparents on a farm in Nova Scotia, a period she would later reference in her writing. Bishop's mother remained in an asylum until her death in 1934, and the two were never reunited. Read more at: E. Bishop

--Word of the Day: martinet \mar-t'n-ET\, noun:
1. A strict disciplinarian.
2. One who lays stress on a rigid adherence to the details of forms and methods.
Example:
His insistence on strict discipline began to earn him a reputation among his men as an unfeeling martinet.
-- Michiko Kakutani, "Still Pondering the Myth Of Custer's Last Stand", New York Times, May 28, 1996

--Quote of the Day: Feeling gratitude and not expressing it is like wrapping a present and not giving it.
-William Arthur Ward




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