A Poem For Saturday


Dish poetry editor Alice Quinn writes:

There is an extraordinarily elegant and moving exhibition of paper sculptures by the artist Liz Jaff, which will be up until close of day this Sunday, October 12th, at the Robert Henry Contemporary Gallery at 56 Bogart Street in Brooklyn. It’s anchored by two exquisite works inspired by Elizabeth Bishop’s early poem “Casabianca” (below) and the Victorian poem of the same title by Dorothea Hemans, which inspired Bishop’s. The poem by Hemans falls under the category of “parlor poem” as it was so often recited in homes and also served duty as an elocutionary exercise. In this essay by English poet Carol Rumens, I discovered that it was “the most loved and widely anthologized poem of the 19th century.”

I interviewed the artist this week — her title for the piece that directly references both poems is “The Good Boy” – and I intend to share that conversation shortly on The Dish, but in the meantime, please allow this image and Bishop’s poem (and Mrs. Hemans, too, included in the essay by Rumens), to hurry you along to see the show before it closes on Sunday. If you’re near New York, make this your weekend outing to Bushwick, a neighborhood humming with art and good cafes.

“Casabianca” by Elizabeth Bishop:

Love’s the boy stood on the burning deck
trying to recite “The boy stood on
the burning deck.” Love’s the son
stood stammering elocution
while the poor ship in flames went down.

Love’s the obstinate boy, the ship,
even the swimming sailors, who
would like a schoolroom platform, too,
or an excuse to stay
on deck. And love’s the burning boy.

(From Poems by Elizabeth Bishop, © 2011 by the Alice Methfessel Trust. Used by permission of Farrar, Straus and Giroux. Image courtesy of the artist)