Monday, May 12, 2014

Analysis of "It Is Marvellous..." by Elizabeth Bishop

Original poem reprinted online here:  "It Is Marvellous..." by Elizabeth Bishop
Originally read: October 7, 2013
More information about the Poet: Elizabeth Bishop


This Elizabeth Bishop poem caught me off guard.  The poem seems deeply personal, but when I read the poem again, the tone is more of a discussion of romance -- the outsider perspective -- rather than being in one.

"It is marvellous to wake up together / At the same minute, marvellous to hear / The rain begin suddenly all over the roof"  The first three lines focuses on the scene of the poem as the image of the rain falling is combined with a couple waking up -- what colors this image is the idea of "marvellous" and the continuous usage of the word starts to have me disbelieve its meaning.

"To feel the air clear / As if electricity passed through it / From a black mesh of wires in the sky"  Cliche.  The simile is referring to the sound of rain falling on the roof, but also can be contrasted by the relationship.  Not only are the last three lines cliche, but also the rhyming couplet at the end, "All over the roof the rain hisses, / And below, the light falling of kisses" has a huge sentimental feel over it -- it's cute, it's sticky sweet, but the lines create a separation, the rain and what's underneath which is a foreshadow of, you guessed it, the relationship in turmoil.

"An electrical storm is coming or moving away, / It is the prickling air that wakes us up. / if lightning struck the house now, it would run"  Now here's the interesting part with these three lines. The specifics of the atmosphere separates the real from the imagines -- yes, comparative analogy with the relationship is there, but note if the "prickling air that wakes us up" with prickling having a positive connotation when first read, and more of a negative connotation when looked back upon because of the following line of the actual lightning causing damage, "From the four blue china balls on top / Down the roof and down the rods all around us / And we imagine dreamily"  the last line I quoted could go with these three lines or with the couplet before.  But note how the lightning is "grounded" but the couple "imagine dreamily".  It's as if the physical real is there or diffused, and the dream in the form of the cliche and the sentimental has to continue, "How the whole house caught in a bird-cage of lightning / Would be quite delightful rather than frightening."  The tone has a hint of cynicism because the emotion has to be explained -- delightful rather than frightening.

"And from the same simplified point of view / Of night and lying flat on one's back / All things might change equally easily" And now the shift of point of view just stated on the page, but also note that adverbs used here demonstrate a shift in language -- the action changes equally and easily, but the scene is, basically, the same.

"Since always to warn us there must be these black / Electrical wires dangling, Without surprise / The world might change to something quite different."  The key to these three lines is the "Without surprise" as though the speaker is able to see the shift coming.  Note the usage of image of "black" and how the wires are used more as a grounding effect.  And so the speaker is thinking clearly.

"As the air changes or the lightning comes without our blinking, / Change as our kisses are changing without our thinking"  Yes, using an -ing verb for the final couplet is easy, but note how quickly the speaker could ward off the foreboding feeling of being "grounded" and change back to the lightning which changes -- just like the meaning behind the kisses.  More? Less?  It's not about that.  Don't worry about what may be, rather note that things change.

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