Thursday, April 25, 2019

Poem for a Thursday: Bishop

For a Child of 1918

My grandfather said to me
as we sat on the wagon seat,
"Be sure to remember to always
speak to everyone you meet." 
We met a stranger on foot.
My grandfather's whip tapped his hat.
"Good day, sir. Good day. A fine day."
And I said it and bowed where I sat. 
Then we overtook a boy we knew
with his big pet crow on his shoulder.
"Always offer everyone a ride;
don't forget that when you get older," 
my grandfather said. So Willy
climbed up with us, but the crow
gave a "Caw!" and flew off. I was worried.
How would he know where to go? 
But he flew a little way at a time
from fence post to fence post, ahead;
and when Willy whistled, he answered.
"A fine bird," my grandfather said, 
"and he's well brought up. See, he answers
nicely when he's spoken to.
Man or beast, that's good manners.
Be sure that you both always do." 
When automobiles went by,
the dust hid the people's faces,
but we shouted, "Good day! Good day!
Fine day!" at the top of our voices. 
When we came to Hustler Hill,
he said that the mare was tired,
so we all got down and walked,
as our good manners required.
-Elizabeth Bishop

Though the poem is set in 1918, (when Elizabeth Bishop would have been seven) it appears in her book of 1965 Questions of Travel.

Jennifer at Holds Upon Happiness, the originator of the Poem for a Thursday idea, is featuring Jane Kenyon this week.

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