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The Imaginary Iceberg

Written by: Elizabeth Bishop | Biography
 | Quotes (9) |
 We'd rather have the iceberg than the ship, 
although it meant the end of travel.
Although it stood stock-still like cloudy rock and all the sea were moving marble.
We'd rather have the iceberg than the ship; we'd rather own this breathing plain of snow though the ship's sails were laid upon the sea as the snow lies undissolved upon the water.
O solemn, floating field, are you aware an iceberg takes repose with you, and when it wakes may pasture on your snows? This is a scene a sailor'd give his eyes for.
The ship's ignored.
The iceberg rises and sinks again; its glassy pinnacles correct elliptics in the sky.
This is a scene where he who treads the boards is artlessly rhetorical.
The curtain is light enough to rise on finest ropes that airy twists of snow provide.
The wits of these white peaks spar with the sun.
Its weight the iceberg dares upon a shifting stage and stands and stares.
The iceberg cuts its facets from within.
Like jewelry from a grave it saves itself perpetually and adorns only itself, perhaps the snows which so surprise us lying on the sea.
Good-bye, we say, good-bye, the ship steers off where waves give in to one another's waves and clouds run in a warmer sky.
Icebergs behoove the soul (both being self-made from elements least visible) to see them so: fleshed, fair, erected indivisible.



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