The Armadillo

The Armadillo – Bishop


  • Set in Brazil where Bishop lived for years.
  • Set around the commemoration of a local saint.
  • Focus on religion, war, sense of place and addiction.


Stanza One

  • Bishop describes the ‘fire balloons’ being released. Language of ‘illegal fire’ surrounds this in negativity. She describes their flight.

Stanza Two

  • Here we have the religious influence and a certain beauty attached to the balloons ‘flush and fill with light’

Stanza Three

  • The beauty is continued as the float in the sky.

Stanza Four

  • ‘flare and falter, wobble and toss’ help to introduce the potential for danger the balloons pose.

Stanza Five

  • Here we see how something can turn dangerous so quickly ‘suddenly turning dangerous’.

Stanza Six

  • Here we are introduced to the destruction that can be caused and we begin to see how things can be affected from this point ‘splattered like an egg of fire/against the cliff behind the house.

Stanza Seven

  • We see the destruction of the owl’s home. There is onomatopoeia to help emphasise the horror and destruction felt.



Stanza Eight

  • We see that even the armadillo with its natural protection is affected and the posture of head and tail down shows the dejection.

Stanza Nine

  • Again we have the horror of the destruction of innocence represented by the ‘baby rabbit’ ‘ignited eyes’.

Stanza Ten

  • Here we look at the attempt to be one with God that can lead to destruction. We have the armadillo’s futile anger.

Points to note:

Religion: This can look at how religion can be good but also how it can be turned to violence and suffering as time has witnessed.

War: Poem as a dedication to Robert Powell who objected to World War Two and the destruction of innocence.

Sense of Place: ‘These parts’ does not suggest as sense of belonging. Sense of detachment throughout.

Addiction: Looks at people caught up in compulsive behaviour disregarding others.


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