Out on the high "bird islands," Ciboux and Hertford,
the razorbill auks and the silly-looking puffins all stand
with their backs to the mainland
in solemn, uneven lines along the cliff's brown grass-frayed edge,
while the few sheep pastured there go "Baaa, baaa."
(Sometimes, frightened by aeroplanes, they stampede
and fall over into the sea or onto the rocks.)
The silken water is weaving and weaving,
disappearing under the mist equally in all directions,
lifted and penetrated now and then
by one shag's dripping serpent-neck,
and somewhere the mist incorporates the pulse,
rapid but unurgent, of a motor boat.
The same mist hangs in thin layers
among the valleys and gorges of the mainland
like rotting snow-ice sucked away
almost to spirit; the ghosts of glaciers drift
among those folds and folds of fir: spruce and hackmatack--
dull, dead, deep pea-cock colors,
each riser distinguished from the next
by an irregular nervous saw-tooth edge,
alike, but certain as a stereoscopic view.
The wild road clambers along the brink of the coast.
On it stand occasional small yellow bulldozers,
but without their drivers, because today is Sunday.
The little white churches have been dropped into the matted hills
like lost quartz arrowheads.
The road appears to have been abandoned.
Whatever the landscape had of meaning appears to have been abandoned,
unless the road is holding it back, in the interior,
where we cannot see,
where deep lakes are reputed to be,
and disused trails and mountains of rock
and miles of burnt forests, standing in gray scratches
like the admirable scriptures made on stones by stones--
and these regions now have little to say for themselves
except in thousands of light song-sparrow songs floating upward
freely, dispassionately, through the mist, and meshing
in brown-wet, fine torn fish-nets.
A small bus comes along, in up-and-down rushes,
packed with people, even to its step.
(On weekdays with groceries, spare automobile parts, and pump parts,
but today only two preachers extra, one carrying his frock coat on a
It passes the closed roadside stand, the closed schoolhouse,
where today no flag is flying
from the rough-adzed pole topped with a white china doorknob.
It stops, and a man carrying a bay gets off,
climbs over a stile, and goes down through a small steep meadow,
which establishes its poverty in a snowfall of daisies,
to his invisible house beside the water.
The birds keep on singing, a calf bawls, the bus starts.
The thin mist follows
the white mutations of its dream;
an ancient chill is rippling the dark brooks.
Read this poem in other languages
This poem has not been translated into any other language yet.
Comments about this poem (Cape Breton by Elizabeth Bishop )
(March 26, 1874 – January 29, 1963)
(12 July 1904 – 23 September 1973)
(4 April 1928 - 28 May 2014)
(16 August 1920 – 9 March 1994)
(18 November 1939)
Edgar Allan Poe
(19 January 1809 - 7 October 1849)
(27 October 1914 – 9 November 1953)
(28 November 1757 – 12 August 1827)
Gerard Manley Hopkins
(28 July 1844 – 8 June 1889)
- Daffodils, William Wordsworth
- Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening, Robert Frost
- Do Not Go Gentle Into That Good Night, Dylan Thomas
- Still I Rise, Maya Angelou
- Fire and Ice, Robert Frost
- Tonight I can write the saddest lines, Pablo Neruda
- My Hometown, Ray Hansell
- Christmas Carol, Sara Teasdale
- Annabel Lee, Edgar Allan Poe
- Nothing Gold Can Stay, Robert Frost
Poem of the Day
- Win the self, gajanan mishra
- (6) जिख्लाबसे लाइजाम: 'रैसुमै'नो, Ronjoy Brahma
- I Exist, Rohit Sapra
- The law of these times, Ravikumar C.P.
- So Many Minds Are Left Fractured, Lawrence S. Pertillar
- Mystic Blake, Joseph Narusiewicz
- Today's World, Leong Ming Loong
- Thoughts in the Moonlight, Luo Zhihai
- Tales Of A Wife: Honeymoon, Onyekachukwu Vincent Onyeche
- Guard well, gajanan mishra