First Death In Nova Scotia Poem by Elizabeth Bishop

First Death In Nova Scotia

Rating: 3.2

In the cold, cold parlor
my mother laid out Arthur
beneath the chromographs:
Edward, Prince of Wales,
with Princess Alexandra,
and King George with Queen Mary.
Below them on the table
stood a stuffed loon
shot and stuffed by Uncle
Arthur, Arthur's father.

Since Uncle Arthur fired
a bullet into him,
he hadn't said a word.
He kept his own counsel
on his white, frozen lake,
the marble-topped table.
His breast was deep and white,
cold and caressable;
his eyes were red glass,
much to be desired.

"Come," said my mother,
"Come and say good-bye
to your little cousin Arthur."
I was lifted up and given
one lily of the valley
to put in Arthur's hand.
Arthur's coffin was
a little frosted cake,
and the red-eyed loon eyed it
from his white, frozen lake.

Arthur was very small.
He was all white, like a doll
that hadn't been painted yet.
Jack Frost had started to paint him
the way he always painted
the Maple Leaf (Forever).
He had just begun on his hair,
a few red strokes, and then
Jack Frost had dropped the brush
and left him white, forever.

The gracious royal couples
were warm in red and ermine;
their feet were well wrapped up
in the ladies' ermine trains.
They invited Arthur to be
the smallest page at court.
But how could Arthur go,
clutching his tiny lily,
with his eyes shut up so tight
and the roads deep in snow?

Ruth Rassool 01 October 2019

The computerized voice is not helpful for poetry

12 2 Reply
Brian Hanney 21 December 2020

I entirely agree, Ruth; it's an abomination.

7 1
mark russel 18 February 2022

Arthur was gay

4 0 Reply
ddd 20 January 2022


1 0 Reply
spiderman 14 October 2021

Razors da left him just how arthur left the family

2 0 Reply
John Mahon 14 October 2021


6 4 Reply
fred 18 February 2022

thx for the epic comment john mahon

8 1
John Mahon 14 October 2021

Arthur is black and got shot by a policeman

6 1 Reply
Elizabeth Bishop

Elizabeth Bishop

Worcester, Massachusetts
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