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R. S. Gwynn 02-14-2018 08:21 PM

Elizabeth Bishop, "The Armadillo"

Ann Drysdale 02-15-2018 01:54 AM

Blimey. Those would dispossess a lot of owls...

EB spoke truth, as ever. Nobody listened.

I've joined a campaign to make the bloody things illegal.

Jayne Osborn 02-15-2018 06:47 AM

Thanks for posting this, Sam. I Googled the poem and wanted to post a link, till I read the rather dire warning. I would even have phoned for permission, but they don't allow you to do that!

The poem made me feel like crying. I will ask Annie how to join the protest against these monstrously dangerous things. How irresponsible to send them into the atmosphere!


Elizabeth Bishop, "The Armadillo" from The Complete Poems 1927-1979. Copyright 1979 by Elizabeth Bishop. Used by permission of Farrar, Straus & Giroux, LLC, All rights reserved.

Caution: Users are warned that this work is protected under copyright laws and downloading is strictly prohibited. The right to reproduce or transfer the work via any medium must be secured with Farrar, Straus and Giroux, LLC.

Ann Drysdale 02-15-2018 06:59 AM

Here you go, Jayne

And a bit of fanfare for Wales...

Rob Wright 02-15-2018 06:32 PM

Since Lowell's "Skunk Hour" is an answer (in some curious ways to this poem) and has a corresponding dedication to EB, it's worth checking out. It was one of the poems I committed to memory when I began writing again in my forties.

John Isbell 02-15-2018 11:59 PM

Geoffrey Hill singled out "Skunk Hour" in class when teaching Lowell to us back in the day.


John Riley 02-17-2018 10:47 AM

I love reading the letters Bishop and Lowell wrote to one another during the time they wrote these poems. The way Bishop's poem flies out of meter when the chaos begins is carefully managed but still seems to happen with little effort. Wonderful.

R. S. Gwynn 02-20-2018 06:23 PM

Bishop would have seen this insignia in Florida and elsewhere.

Rob Wright 02-20-2018 09:45 PM


SAC was established in 1947. Bishop, if memory serves me correctly, had moved from Key West and went on to Europe and Brazil. I spent some time with Air/Sea Rescue boys out of Florida bases, flying in Sikorsky Double H-130s. Interesting design. The door was bolted open to accommodate the rescue boom so the downdraft from the rotors blew exhaust from the engines into the cabin. You got used to the smell after a time, but after-hours in the bars you smelled like a Kerosene stove, and no dice. I must say I never saw a B-52 there. I think they might have been further north where Aaron Time have spent time – unless I'm missing a joke of yours. (It's quite possible.)

R. S. Gwynn 02-21-2018 12:38 AM

Well, you've got the rather cartoonish image of the armadillo shaking its weak, mailed fist against the sky, and you have the SAC insignia. There were 8 SAC bases in Florida and, of course, others in Canada and Europe. "The Armadillo" has always struck me as a Cold War poem. Independently, Julie Kane noted the same thing:

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