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The Armadillo

Elizabeth Bishop

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great poem
2003-08-07
Added by: John
This poem to me had a very profound effect on me when i read it first. It shows us, that when we are trying to celebrate our gods, the effects they have on the enviournment can be devastating.

these celebrations can have destructive efeect on the world around us! The image of the young rabbit fleeing its burrow is very effective in conveying this, because a young rabbit NEVER leaves the burrow unitil is older.

Notice too the name of the poem ARMADILLO

This theme is universally still very relevant today.
2006-09-02
Added by: Sean Wayman
The main movement of this poem is from aesthetic to moral involvement. The poem also records a sudden shift in emotion at the end of the poem. It is not accurate to say that the poet is detached while she admires the beauty of the scene- on the contrary she is interested, delighted and curious. For instance when she describes the fire ballons she writes, "The paper chambers flush and fill with light/ that comes and goes like hearts." The traditional association of the heart with the emotions is no accident; it is entirely congruous with the warmth and romance of the imagery. Bishop is clearly delighted by the holiday celebrations. Some critics have suggested that the end of the poem sees the poet shift from detachment to involvement but really it sees a shift from positive to negative emotion. When the fire balloon explodes forcing the wildlife to leave its nest to escape the flames, her delight turns to despair and anger at human interference in the natural world. What we also see is a shift from the contentment with which she closely observes the environment to a moment of crisis when she has to confront the morally uncomfortable fact that human beings not only create beauty but also destroy it.
It is also worth noting here the characteristic Bishopian stance of uncertainty. She avoids playing the masculine figure of prophet-poet by continually questioning the veracity of her own perceptions and understandings. For instance at the start of the fourth stanze she admits that she doesn't know the name of the green planet she is looking at. Similarly she admits that she has difficulty distinguishing between the balloons and stars at times. It seems probable then that the last stanza should also be read as a form of self-interrogation. It could be read as an admission of the moral indifference of the purely aesthetic consciousness she exhibits in all but the final verse. Paradoxically of course this characteristic of uncertainty is part of its strength; we feel more likely to trust a voice that admits the limits of its knowledge and vision than one that claims omnipotence.
Bishop is still often described by critics as a nature poet, someone with a knack for describing things well. That there is far more to her poems than that I hope has been illustrated by these comments.

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