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LULLABY FOR THE CAT, by             Poet Analysis     Poet's Biography

In "Lullaby for the Cat," Elizabeth Bishop uses a variety of poetic elements to create a vivid and intimate portrait of the relationship between a cat and its owner. The poem is notable for its use of imagery, metaphor, symbolism, and other techniques that evoke a sense of warmth and affection.

One of the key elements of the poem is its use of imagery. Bishop uses descriptive language to create a vivid picture of the cat, as in the line, "Her eyes green / as ringstones." This creates a sense of vibrancy and life that is central to the poem's theme.

Metaphor is also an important element of the poem. Bishop compares the cat to a baby, emphasizing the idea that the cat is a precious and beloved companion. This metaphor is reinforced by the use of imagery, such as the image of the "cradle of your hand."

Symbolism is another important element of the poem. The speaker associates the cat with warmth and comfort, as in the line, "she will settle on your lap / purring." This symbolizes the idea that the cat is a source of comfort and contentment for its owner.

Personification is also used effectively in the poem. Bishop personifies the cat, as in the line, "she dreams / delicately, and without a sound." This emphasizes the sense of intimacy and closeness between the cat and its owner.

Repetition is used effectively in the poem to create a sense of continuity and flow. Bishop repeats certain phrases and images throughout the poem, such as the image of the cat "purring" and the "cradle of your hand." This repetition creates a sense of comfort and reinforces the theme of the cat as a source of warmth and affection.

The structure of the poem is notable for its use of short lines and stanzas. This creates a sense of intimacy and closeness, as if the speaker is whispering the words directly to the cat.

Enjambment is also used effectively in the poem. Bishop's use of enjambment creates a sense of fluidity and motion, as if the speaker's thoughts are flowing freely and continuously.

Alliteration is another important element of the poem. Bishop's use of alliteration creates a sense of rhythm and flow, as in the line, "She blinks / contented, stretching on your knee."

Irony is also used effectively in the poem. The speaker seems to be simultaneously celebrating the beauty of the cat and poking fun at its imperfections, such as its "scraps" of fur and its "mischief." This creates a sense of humor and playfulness that is central to the poem's tone.

Finally, the tone of the poem is one of warmth and affection. The speaker seems to be deeply attached to the cat and to cherish its presence in their life.

"Lullaby for the Cat" was written in the mid-1950s, a time when Bishop was living in Brazil. The poem is one of her most beloved works and is notable for its use of poetic techniques that capture the intimate and affectionate relationship between a cat and its owner.

In conclusion, "Lullaby for the Cat" is a charming and whimsical poem that uses a variety of poetic elements to create a vivid portrait of the relationship between humans and animals. Through its use of imagery, metaphor, symbolism, tone, structure, irony, repetition, enjambment, alliteration, and personification, the poem effectively conveys the sense of nostalgia and longing that the speaker feels.


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