Poem of the Day 7

The Gentleman of Shalott

Which eye’s his eye?

Which limb lies

next the mirror?

For neither is clearer

nor a different color

than the other,

nor meets a stranger

in this arrangement

of leg and leg and

arm and so on.

To his mind

it’s the indication

of a mirrored reflection

somewhere along the line

of what we call the spine.


He felt in modesty

his person was

half looking-glass,

for why should he be doubted?

The glass must stretch

down his middle,

or rather down the edge.

But he’sin doubt

as to which side’s in or out

of the mirror.

There’s little margin for error,

but there’s no proof, either.

And if half his head’s reflected,

thought, he thinks, might be affected.


But he’s resigned

to such economical design.

If the glass slips

he’s in a fix–

only one leg, etc. But

while it stays put he can walk and run

and his hands can clasp one

another. The uncertainty

he says he

finds exhilarating. He loves

that sense of constant re-adjustment.

He wishes to be quoted as saying at present:

“Half is enough.”


Elizabeth Bishop



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