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The Imaginary Iceberg


Bernadette Johnson

on 8 October 2012

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Transcript of The Imaginary Iceberg

The Imaginary Iceberg
by Elizabeth Bishop Bernadette Johnson's IOP Fantasy and Reality Theme: Symbolism Imagery The Imaginary Iceberg
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.
-Elizabeth Bishop Works Cited

"Iceberg." Artprintimages.com. Art Print Images. Web. 20 Feb. 2012.

"Iceberg." Bigdatabytes.com. Bigdatabytes.com. Web. 20 Feb. 2012.

"Iceberg." Blogspot.com. Blogspot.com. Web. 20 Feb. 2012.

"Literary Devices | Definitions & Examples." Literary Devices. Literary
Devices, 2010. Web. 20 Feb. 2012. <http://literary-devices.com/>. Elizabeth Bishop (1911-1979) She won many awards for her poetry like the Neustadt International Prize for Literature in 1975. She was considered to be a part of the American Modernism movement of literature. Her father died when she was very young and her mother became mentally ill so she spent most of her childhood with her grandparents. In the first stanza the line, “We’d rather have the iceberg then the ship; we’d rather own this breathing plain of snow,” (Bishop, 6-7) the “iceberg” and the “ship” are being used as contradicting symbols to represent both opposite sides to man’s internal conflict between fantasy and reality. Tone Throughout the poem, Bishop establishes two divergent
tones. Her tone towards the iceberg is adoring, and awful as
she seems to be mystified with the object; "This is a scene a
sailor'd give his eyes for." (Bishop, 12) "Like jewlery...and
adorns only itself." (Bishop, 24-25) Her tone towards the ship is uninterested,
and impassive; "We'd rather have the iceberg
than the ship."(Bishop, 1,5) "The ship's ignored."
(Bishop, 13) Organization and Progression Free Verse

The first stanza introduces the iceberg.
"iceberg" (Bishop, 1)

The second stanza gives an in depth description of the iceberg.
"glassy" "airy twists" "white peaks" (Bishop, 14, 19, 20)

The final stanza slowly dismisses the iceberg.
"Good-bye, we say, good-bye" (Bishop, 28) Speaker, Audience, and Situation Atmosphere Bishop creates a dreamy atmosphere through the use of phrases such as;
"cloudy rock" (Bishop, 3), "moving marble" (Bishop, 4), "snow lies undissolved upon the water" (Bishop, 8), "floating field" (Bishop, 9),
"glassy pinnacles" (Bishop, 10), "airy twists" (Bishop 19). This dreamy atmosphere is related to the iceberg and how it represents fantasy. Diction Bishop romanticizes the iceberg through the following diction;
"marble" (Bishop, 4), "floating" (Bishop, 9), "glassy" (Bishop, 14),
"artlessly" (Bishop, 17), "airy" (Bishop, 19), and "jewelry" (Bishop, 24).
The diction usage almost makes the iceberg seem magical. Figurative Language Simile “Like jewelry from a grave it saves itself perpetually and adores only itself,” (Bishop, 24-26) Bishop compares our fantasies to jewelry in a grave, that can be seen by no one, therefor only adores itself as we are the only ones to know of our own fantasies that are forsaken in our own minds. Imagery "it stood stock-still like cloudy rock" (Bishop, 3)
"all the sea were moving marble" (Bishop, 4)
"the snow lies undissolved upon the water" (Bishop, 8)
"the iceberg rises and sinks again" (Bishop, 13-14)
"white peaks spar with the sun" (Bishop, 20-21)
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