"I am 3/4ths Canadian, and one 4th New Englander - I had ancestors on both sides in the Revolutionary war." - Elizabeth Bishop

Saturday, December 31, 2011

All Good Things Must Come to an End...

... and so today's "Today in Bishop" is the last one of the centenary year and, for the time being, the last one. My thanks first of all to my co-hosts, Sandra Barry and Suzie LeBlanc, who have headed the effort of so many, many people throughout Nova Scotia to make EB100 such an enormous success, and then to you, our faithful readers, for all your interest, encouragement, and support.

Finally, I am grateful for Elizabeth Bishop and for her work, which has given me so much to ponder for so many years. Here, in parting, is EB's translation of a poem by Octavio Paz. -- JB

January 1

The year's doors open
like those of language,
toward the unknown.
Last night you told me:
we shall have to think up signs,
sketch a landscape, fabricate a plan
on the double page
of day and paper.
Tomorrow, we shall have to invent,
once more,
the reality of this world.

I opened my eyes late.
For a second of a second
I felt what the Aztec felt,
on the crest of the promontory,
lying in wait
for time's uncertain return
through cracks in the horizon.

But no, the year had returned.
It filled all the room
and my look almost touched it.
Time, with no help from us,
had placed
in exactly the same order as yesterday
houses in the empty street,
snow on the houses,
silence on the snow.

You were beside me,
still asleep.
The day had invented you
but you hadn't yet accepted
being invented by the day.
--Nor possibly my being invented, either.
You were in another day.
You were beside me
and I saw you, like the snow,
asleep among appearances.
Time, with no help from us,
invents houses, streets, trees
and sleeping women.

When you open your eyes
we'll walk, once more,
among the hours and their inventions.
We'll walk among appearances
and bear witness to time and its conjugations.
Perhaps we'll open the day's doors.
And then we shall enter the unknown.

Cambridge, Mass.,
1 January 1975

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