Elizabeth Bishop

(8 February 1911 – 6 October 1979 / Worcester, Massachusetts)

Chemin De Fer - Poem by Elizabeth Bishop

Alone on the railroad track
I walked with pounding heart.
The ties were too close together
or maybe too far apart.

The scenery was impoverished:
scrub-pine and oak; beyond
its mingled gray-green foliage
I saw the little pond

where the dirty old hermit lives,
lie like an old tear
holding onto its injuries
lucidly year after year.

The hermit shot off his shot-gun
and the tree by his cabin shook.
Over the pond went a ripple
The pet hen went chook-chook.

"Love should be put into action!"
screamed the old hermit.
Across the pond an echo
tried and tried to confirm it.

Comments about Chemin De Fer by Elizabeth Bishop

  • Subhas Chandra Chakra (4/19/2018 11:59:00 PM)

    A great poem in the section, so well chosen. I feel happy to have read it. Loved every imagery, especially the old tear holding onto the injuries. Sounds great.
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  • Susan Williams (4/19/2018 5:35:00 PM)

    an intriguing poet- -wow- have to read this again- want to read this again- -its immediacy is so vibrant and the last two lines resonate especially (Report) Reply

  • (4/19/2018 3:45:00 PM)

    People's suffering is described using elements of nature. The poem is a prayer for true saving love. The suffering of the hermit is in contrast to that of the world that is hopeless. (Report) Reply

  • Edward Kofi Louis (4/19/2018 1:47:00 PM)

    Yes! ! ! Love should be put into action! !

    Thanks for sharing this poem with us.
    (Report) Reply

  • Glen Kappy (4/19/2018 7:37:00 AM)

    The scene painted along the railroad tracks is familiar, well-rendered. My mind goes to how this mode of transportation, once so important, that once made a few quite rich—in part from government handouts—has sunk from prominence. A weird connection perhaps, but Shelley’s Ozymandias—for comparison—comes to mind. -GK (Report) Reply

  • Kumarmani Mahakul (4/19/2018 2:42:00 AM)

    The expression of this poem is so amusing and interesting. It is justified for being selected this poem as the poem of the day. (Report) Reply

  • Bernard F. Asuncion (4/19/2018 1:52:00 AM)

    Such a wonderful poem by Elizabeth Bishop👍👍👍 (Report) Reply

  • Robert Murray Smith (4/19/2018 1:37:00 AM)

    This poem is moderately good but not suitable for this category. (Report) Reply

  • (3/9/2014 3:04:00 AM)

    The hermit shot off his shot-gun
    and the tree by his cabin shook.
    Over the pond went a ripple
    The pet hen went chook-chook
    (Report) Reply

  • Georgios Venetopoulos (8/31/2012 10:27:00 AM)

    A smart, elegant poem with bold expression.
    I expect a friend to read it, too.
    (Report) Reply

  • (1/22/2008 9:35:00 PM)

    I think this poem is gorgeous. It's marked as one of my favorite. And I'm just a bit in awe/love with the author. (Report) Reply

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Read poems about / on: together, tree, green, alone, heart

Poem Submitted: Monday, January 13, 2003

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