Lynn Keller: On "The Armadillo"

… Humans lack control over even human inventions; a single lightning bolt obliterates the electrical power, lights and telephone upon which we depend. Similarly, in "The Armadillo." Winds suddenly transform lovely man-made lanterns into deadly apocalyptic flames. People’s homes are vulnerable as owls’ nests, humans as helpless as fleeing armadillos; our very hearts, like fire-balloons, beat, expire, or explode at nature’s whim. (That nature’ s power is murderous is similarly suggested in "Electrical Storm" by the appearance three times of the word "dead.") The armor that [Marianne] Moore so often admires seems in Bishop’s poem anachronistic; it effectively protects neither armadillos nor humans, who can only cry out and stand with "a weak mailed fist / clenched ignorant against the sky."

From Lynn Keller, "‘Reality, dissolved … in that watery, dazzling dialectic’: Bishop’s Divergence from Moore’s Modernism," Chapter 4 in Re-making It New: Contemporary American Poetry and the Modernist Tradition (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1987), 111 


Title Lynn Keller: On "The Armadillo" Type of Content Criticism
Criticism Author Lynn Keller Criticism Target Elizabeth Bishop
Criticism Type Poet Originally Posted 04 Jan 2015
Publication Status Excerpted Criticism Publication Re-making It New: Contemporary American Poetry and the Modernist Tradition
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