Programme for the Elizabeth Bishop Summer School at the Mater Dei Institute

“The sun is blazing and the sky is blue”




The Irish Centre for Poetry Studies at Mater Dei Institute are proud to announce details for their upcoming Elizabeth Bishop Summer School.

Date: Thursday 28th June – Friday 29th June  

9.00-9.30 am REGISTRATION
9.30-11.00 am : DR.MICHAEL HINDS
Irish Centre for Poetry Studies, MDI

“You are one of them”:
How Elizabeth Bishop Became Canonical
11.00-11.15 am: COFFEE
Trinity College Dublin

Bishop Intertextually
1.00-2.30 pm: LUNCH
 2.30-4.00 pm DR. MARIA JOHNSTON
Trinity College Dublin &
Irish Centre for Poetry Studies
Bishop’s Orchestration of the Book

Friday June 29th
 9.30-11.00 am: DR. CATHERINE KILCOYNE
University College Dublin &
Irish Centre for Poetry Studies

Bishop and Sexuality
11.15-11.30 am: Coffee
 11.30-1.00 am DR. ALEX RUNCHMAN
Trinity College Dublin &
Irish Centre for Poetry Studies

“Manners”: Bishop, Friendship and
(IN) Formality
1.00-2.30 pm: LUNCH

email Michael Hinds for more details on fees or to book a place

JUNE 28TH-29TH, 2012
“The sun is blazing and the sky is blue”


by Elizabeth Bishop

” September rain falls on the house.
In the failing light, the old grandmother
sits in the kitchen with the child
beside the Little Marvel Stove,
reading the jokes from the almanac,
laughing and talking to hide her tears.

She thinks that her equinoctial tears
and the rain that beats on the roof of the house
were both foretold by the almanac,
but only known to a grandmother.
The iron kettle sings on the stove.
She cuts some bread and says to the child,

It’s time for tea now; but the child
is watching the teakettle’s small hard tears
dance like mad on the hot black stove,
the way the rain must dance on the house.
Tidying up, the old grandmother
hangs up the clever almanac

on its string. Birdlike, the almanac
hovers half open above the child,
hovers above the old grandmother
and her teacup full of dark brown tears.
She shivers and says she thinks the house
feels chilly, and puts more wood in the stove.

It was to be, says the Marvel Stove.
I know what I know, says the almanac.
With crayons the child draws a rigid house
and a winding pathway. Then the child
puts in a man with buttons like tears
and shows it proudly to the grandmother.

But secretly, while the grandmother
busies herself about the stove,
the little moons fall down like tears
from between the pages of the almanac
into the flower bed the child
has carefully placed in the front of the house.

Time to plant tears, says the almanac.
The grandmother sings to the marvelous stove
and the child draws another inscrutable house. “

Sestina by Elizabeth Bishop

Sestina by Elizabeth Bishop is published in Questions of Travel , which is discussed here in Modern American Poetry. Information on the poem is also published in a previous post about sestinas. 


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: