How-I didn't know any word for it-how "unlikely"... How had I come to be here, like them, and overhear a cry of pain that could have got loud and worse but hadn't?
APAElizabeth Bishop Quotes. (n.d.). Jar of Quotes. Retrieved , from JarofQuotes.com Web site: https://www.jarofquotes.com/view.php?id=howi-didnt-know-any-word-for-ithow-unlikely-how-had-i-come-to-be-here-like-them-overhear-cry-pain-that-could-have-got-loud-worse-but-hadnt-elizabeth-bishop
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I caught a tremendous fish and held him beside the boat half out of water, with my hook fast in a corner of his mouth. He didn't fight. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . I stared and stared and victory filled up the little rented boat from the pool of bilge where oil had spread a rainbow around the rusted engine to the bailer rusted orange, the sun-cracked thwarts the oarlocks on their strings, the gunnels-until everything was rainbow, rainbow, rainbow! And I let the fish go.
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I have seen it over and over, the same sea, the same, slightly, indifferently swinging above the stones, icily free above the stones, above the stones and then the world. If you should dip your hand in, your wrist would ache immediately, your bones would begin to ache and your hand would burn as if the water were a transmutation of fire that feeds on stones and burns with a dark gray flame. If you tasted it, it would first taste bitter, then briny, then surely burn your tongue. It is like what we imagine knowledge to be: dark, salt, clear, moving, utterly free, drawn form the cold hard mouth of the world, derived from the rocky breasts forever, flowing and drawn, and since our knowledge is historical, flowing, and flown.
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Think of the long trip home. Should we have stayed at home and thought of here? Where should we be today? Is it right to be watching strangers in a play in this strangest of theatres? What childishness is it that while there's a breath of life in our bodies, we are determined to rush to see the sun the other way around? The tiniest green hummingbird in the world? To stare at some inexplicable old stonework, inexplicable and impenetrable, at any view, instantly seen and always, always delightful? Oh, must we dream our dreams and have them, too? And have we room for one more folded sunset, still quite warm?
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I never knew him. We both knew this place, apparently, this literal small backwater, looked at it long enough to memorize it, our years apart. How strange. And it's still loved, or its memory is (it must have changed a lot). Our visions coincided-'visions' is too serious a word-our looks, two looks: art 'copying from life' and life itself, life and the memory of it so compressed they've turned into each other. Which is which? Life and the memory of it cramped, dim, on a piece of Bristol board, dim, but how live, how touching in detail -the little that we get for free, the little of our earthly trust. Not much. About the size of our abidance along with theirs: the munching cows, the iris, crisp and shivering, the water still standing from spring freshets, the yet-to-be-dismantled elms, the geese.
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Dreams were the worst. Of course I dreamed of food and love, but they were pleasant rather than otherwise. But then I'd dream of things like slitting a baby's throat, mistaking it for a baby goat. I'd have nightmares of other islands stretching away from mine, infinities of islands, islands spawning islands, like frogs' eggs turning into polliwogs of islands, knowing that I had to live on each and every one, eventually, for ages, registering their flora, their fauna, their geography.
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I am in need of music that would flow Over my fretful, feeling finger-tips, Over my bitter-tainted, trembling lips, With melody, deep, clear, and liquid-slow. Oh, for the healing swaying, old and low, Of some song sung to rest the tired dead, A song to fall like water on my head, And over quivering limbs, dream flushed to glow! There is a magic made by melody: A spell of rest, and quiet breath, and cool Heart, that sinks through fading colors deep To the subaqueous stillness of the sea, And floats forever in a moon-green pool, Held in the arms of rhythm and of sleep.
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It was cold and windy, scarcely the day to take a walk on that long beach Everything was withdrawn as far as possible, indrawn: the tide far out, the ocean shrunken, seabirds in ones or twos. The rackety, icy, offshore wind numbed our faces on one side; disrupted the formation of a lone flight of Canada geese; and blew back the low, inaudible rollers in upright, steely mist.
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