poet Elizabeth Bishop

Elizabeth Bishop

#68 on top 500 poets

Love Lies Sleeping

Earliest morning, switching all the tracks
that cross the sky from cinder star to star,
coupling the ends of streets
to trains of light.

now draw us into daylight in our beds;
and clear away what presses on the brain:
put out the neon shapes
that float and swell and glare

down the gray avenue between the eyes
in pinks and yellows, letters and twitching signs.
Hang-over moons, wane, wane!
From the window I see

an immense city, carefully revealed,
made delicate by over-workmanship,
detail upon detail,
cornice upon facade,

reaching up so languidly up into
a weak white sky, it seems to waver there.
(Where it has slowly grown
in skies of water-glass

from fused beads of iron and copper crystals,
the little chemical "garden" in a jar
trembles and stands again,
pale blue, blue-green, and brick.)

The sparrows hurriedly begin their play.
Then, in the West, "Boom!" and a cloud of smoke.
"Boom!" and the exploding ball
of blossom blooms again.

(And all the employees who work in a plants
where such a sound says "Danger," or once said "Death,"
turn in their sleep and feel
the short hairs bristling

on backs of necks.) The cloud of smoke moves off.
A shirt is taken of a threadlike clothes-line.
Along the street below
the water-wagon comes

throwing its hissing, snowy fan across
peelings and newspapers. The water dries
light-dry, dark-wet, the pattern
of the cool watermelon.

I hear the day-springs of the morning strike
from stony walls and halls and iron beds,
scattered or grouped cascades,
alarms for the expected:

queer cupids of all persons getting up,
whose evening meal they will prepare all day,
you will dine well
on his heart, on his, and his,

so send them about your business affectionately,
dragging in the streets their unique loves.
Scourge them with roses only,
be light as helium,

for always to one, or several, morning comes
whose head has fallen over the edge of his bed,
whose face is turned
so that the image of

the city grows down into his open eyes
inverted and distorted. No. I mean
distorted and revealed,
if he sees it at all.

Poem Submitted: Monday, January 13, 2003

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Comments about Love Lies Sleeping by Elizabeth Bishop

  • Edward Kofi LouisEdward Kofi Louis (2/14/2019 10:08:00 PM)

    Light as helium! ! !

    Thanks for sharing this poem with us.

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  • Ratnakar Mandlik (2/14/2019 10:07:00 PM)

    The narrative with it's detailed sweep of love is just fascinating. Enjoyed the beautiful poem.

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  • Benjamin Uy (2/14/2019 9:07:00 PM)

    Comprising, comprising all beautiful lnguage words and emotional summary of a great superior love poem.
    Thanks to this great poet

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  • Glen KappyGlen Kappy (2/14/2019 7:37:00 AM)

    This is a lovely poem which manages to be a paean to a city without abandoning realism. It strikes me as an opposite to Ginsberg’s Howl. I especially like her description in the fourth stanza. -GK

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  • Dr Tony BrahminDr Tony Brahmin (2/14/2019 6:08:00 AM)

    a fine poem from the great Elizabeth Bishop.

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  • Hebert Logerie Sr.Hebert Logerie Sr. (2/14/2019 4:49:00 AM)

    This is not a very good poem for Valentine's day. I hope POEMHUNTER.COM do better next time. Many great poets have written better Valentine's poems for the day of LOVE, poetry and passion. Thank you! Vox populi, vox Dei.

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  • Adrian FlettAdrian Flett (2/14/2019 2:55:00 AM)

    SOME TYPOS makes us wonder if we have received the actual words the poet intended. THIS CARELESSNESS ON THE PART OF PH IS NOT ACCEPTABLE..

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  • Bernard F. AsuncionBernard F. Asuncion (2/14/2019 1:38:00 AM)

    A magnificent poem by Elizabeth Bishop.......

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  • Mahtab BangaleeMahtab Bangalee (2/14/2019 12:57:00 AM)

    oh; heart touching stanza-

    The sparrows hurriedly begin their play.
    Then, in the West, " Boom! " and a cloud of smoke.
    " Boom! " and the exploding ball
    of blossom blooms again

    //

    LOVE
    reciprocally smells everywhere
    but covetous we
    DESTRUCT it
    indiscriminately

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  • M Asim NehalM Asim Nehal (9/13/2018 6:29:00 AM)

    Excellent poem, love is hidden somewhere and it is for us to find...

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  • June Nduta (5/14/2010 3:28:00 AM)

    the poem was inspiring and it has taught me alot about love thanks alot for your inspiring poems.

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