Monday, 25 June 2012

Day 4: Epiphany

Here's what all good poems do - provide an epiphany. An awed realisation moment of an essential truth. And mostly it happens in the midst of ordinary things. Like in this poem by American poet Elizabeth Bishop.

While pulled up at a filling station, the observer of the poem finds herself taking notes of how dirty the place is. But then, unexpectedly, she finds beauty in the scene - a begonia plant and an embroidered  doily - which leads her to the conclusion that somebody cared enough to do all these things. Which of course, leads to the final epiphany moment of divine recognition - that 'Somebody' indeed loves us all. 

Amazing how such an ordinary scenario can lead to such a marvellous revelation. But these things happen in our everyday lives, if only we are aware of them. Sometimes we are, sometimes we're not. Poetry helps us be though. And sometimes a  poem is an epiphany in itself.

Filling Station - Elizabeth Bishop

Oh, but it is dirty!
--this little filling station,
oil-soaked, oil-permeated
to a disturbing, over-all
black translucency.
Be careful with that match!

Father wears a dirty,
oil-soaked monkey suit
that cuts him under the arms,
and several quick and saucy
and greasy sons assist him
(it's a family filling station),
all quite thoroughly dirty.

Do they live in the station?
It has a cement porch
behind the pumps, and on it
a set of crushed and grease-
impregnated wickerwork;
on the wicker sofa
a dirty dog, quite comfy.

Some comic books provide
the only note of color--
of certain color. They lie
upon a big dim doily
draping a taboret
(part of the set), beside
a big hirsute begonia.

Why the extraneous plant?
Why the taboret?
Why, oh why, the doily?
(Embroidered in daisy stitch
with marguerites, I think,
and heavy with gray crochet.)

Somebody embroidered the doily.
Somebody waters the plant,
or oils it, maybe. Somebody
arranges the rows of cans
so that they softly say:

to high-strung automobiles.
Somebody loves us all.

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