Elizabeth Bishop

Worcester, Massachusetts
Elizabeth Bishop
Worcester, Massachusetts
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A Prodigal

Rating: 3.2
The brown enormous odor he lived by
was too close, with its breathing and thick hair,
for him to judge. The floor was rotten; the sty
was plastered halfway up with glass-smooth dung.
Light-lashed, self-righteous, above moving snouts,
the pigs' eyes followed him, a cheerful stare--
even to the sow that always ate her young--
till, sickening, he leaned to scratch her head.
But sometimes mornings after drinking bouts
(he hid the pints behind the two-by-fours),
the sunrise glazed the barnyard mud with red
the burning puddles seemed to reassure.
And then he thought he almost might endure
his exile yet another year or more.

But evenings the first star came to warn.
The farmer whom he worked for came at dark
to shut the cows and horses in the barn
beneath their overhanging clouds of hay,
with pitchforks, faint forked lightnings, catching light,
safe and companionable as in the Ark.
The pigs stuck out their little feet and snored.
The lantern--like the sun, going away--
laid on the mud a pacing aureole.
Carrying a bucket along a slimy board,
he felt the bats' uncertain staggering flight,
his shuddering insights, beyond his control,
touching him. But it took him a long time
finally to make up his mind to go home.
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COMMENTS
Dr Antony Theodore 29 November 2020
he felt the bats' uncertain staggering flight, his shuddering insights, beyond his control, touching him. But it took him a long time finally to make up his mind to go home. a very fine poem. tony
0 2 Reply
kelly 22 September 2020
what is the use of language in this poem
4 1 Reply
alex byrne 29 April 2020
i know this is probably a stud question but hat is the them of this poem in your opinion and please reply quickly
2 0 Reply
Adam o dinn 05 February 2020
Oooooh saaaoirse saoirse saoirse saoirse saoirse
3 0 Reply
Saoirse 05 February 2020
Im going to block you
0 0 Reply
Susan Williams 18 December 2015
Finding light in the most shadowy life- a pig farmer. Extraordinary insight and wisdom to be able to discover such beauty in unlikely places and unassuming souls
27 5 Reply
Kevin 12 May 2018
I'm afraid he's not a pig farmer. He's the prodigal son of the Bible (hence the title) , who has found himself sleeping secretly among the pigs since he has spent all his money and has nowhere else to turn.
0 0 Reply
Michael Morgan 09 August 2013
A great self-portrait
7 16 Reply
Michael Morgan 09 August 2013
one of the twentieth century's great voices
5 14 Reply
Allan Lindsay 23 July 2013
The thing is, the clunkedy lines work - and that's what counts
22 14 Reply
A M Clark 07 February 2013
Wonderful, vivid description, but clunkedy lines here and there...
12 16 Reply
Niki Nicholas Nkuna 06 July 2012
Great story telling poet
10 20 Reply

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