Guest poem submitted by Dustin Smith:
(Poem #1469) Song for the Rainy Season
Hidden, oh hidden in the high fog the house we live in, beneath the magnetic rock, rain-, rainbow-ridden, where blood-black bromelias, lichens, owls, and the lint of the waterfalls cling, familiar, unbidden. In a dim age of water the brook sings loud from a rib cage of giant fern; vapor climbs up the thick growth effortlessly, turns back, holding them both, house and rock, in a private cloud. At night, on the roof, blind drops crawl and the ordinary brown owl gives us proof he can count: five times -- always five -- he stamps and takes off after the fat frogs that, shrilling for love, clamber and mount. House, open house to the white dew and the milk-white sunrise kind to the eyes, to membership of silver fish, mouse, bookworms, big moths; with a wall for the mildew's ignorant map; darkened and tarnished by the warm touch of the warm breath, maculate, cherished; rejoice! For a later era will differ. (O difference that kills or intimidates, much of all our small shadowy life!) Without water the great rock will stare unmagnetized, bare, no longer wearing rainbows or rain, the forgiving air and the high fog gone; the owls will move on and the several waterfalls shrivel in the steady sun.
In "Song for the Rainy Season," Bishop's celebrated observational and descriptive techniques -- her famous "eye" -- are trained both on a cherished, worn house she lives in and on that house's close, subtropical surroundings. As usual, insight grows subtly from accumulated details of the physical world; Bishop never thrusts her meaning into the reader's face. Like the poem's insights, its loose, or open, rhyme scheme -- a scheme Bishop would develop more and more -- creeps into one's awareness as the poem goes on, and during later readings. Thumpingly regular, metronomic rhyming is forgotten in favor of a more flexible and subtle rhyme scheme. The poem's short lines establish a breathless rhythm. They also insure that every word stands out by not losing its power in a line crowded with other words: As Bishop apparently reveres the place she's describing, she necessarily reveres each word she uses to describe it. (Reading the poem aloud is a good way to illuminate this notion of breathlessness and reverence via short lines. Also, the poem's short lines and unexpected rhymes create a particularly dynamic rhythm when read aloud.) ... One of the greatest poems by one of the greatest poets. (She deserved that Pulitzer.) Dustin Smith Brooklyn Heights, New York.