Dove, Interrupted

Lucie Brock-Broido

‘Dove, Interrupted’ is a poem consisting of complex emotions and a heightened sense of being. Though the self seems “opaque”, Brock-Broido presents it translucently.


Lucie Brock-Broido

Lucie Brock-Broido was an American poet, born in Pittsburgh.

She taught at universities like Columbia, Harvard, and Princeton.

This poem is not an easy one to decode. The incoherent ideas are placed to depict how one’s mind works in need of someone. The longing of a heart to get the source of its happiness back, along with the thoughts appearing confusingly, make this poem dearer to the readers. ‘Dove, Interrupted’, a poem by Lucie Brock-Broido, depicts the poet’s “opaque reality” of “herself” and how her mind works in monotony. As a dove, interrupted by a sudden sound, the poet wrote this poem employing the stream-of-consciousness technique.



‘Dove, Interrupted’ by Lucie Brock-Broido is an image-rich poem that talks about the themes of death, sadness, depression, and missing one’s loved one badly.

It seems that the poem is about the conversation between the speaker and her heart. The person whom the poet refers to in this poem seems to be the lover who is about to leave. Moreover, it can also be a reference to someone who is on his deathbed. Whatsoever, the speaker loosely talks about the things that trouble herself or make her feel sad. The images present in the poem, help the poet to focus on her message. The main focus of the poem is the “opaque self” of the poet that is suffering from some untold reasons, bored, and solitary. 

You can read the full poem here.



There are a total of three sections in this poem by Brock-Broido. The first section develops the mood of the poem. The following section heightens the poetic effect and the last section is about the main point-of-focus of this poem. Moreover, ‘Dove, Interrupted’ consists of 19 lines. There is not any rhyme scheme in this poem. Hence, it is a free verse poem. Moreover, the metrical scheme of the poem is also unconventional. The poem is composed of both the iambic and trochaic meter. There are some spondee variations too in this poem.


Literary Devices

Several literary devices of this poem make the poet’s idea more thought-provoking to the readers. First of all, the title, ‘Dove, Interrupted’ is a metaphor for the poet herself. The poem begins with a simile and here the comparison is made between the poet’s emotionless heart and the condition of the speaker. Thereafter, in the second line, the poet uses alliteration in “still squabbling”. In the following lines, the poet also uses consonance and assonance as well. Though there are several end-stopped lines, some lines of the poem get connected by the use of enjambment. Moreover, the poet uses metonymy in the usage of the word, “gold”.

Apart from that, “The vestments of a miniature priest” is a metaphor for the “red grapes”. The poet also uses hyperbole in the line, “The weakling’s saddle is worn down from just too much sad attitude.” She uses irony in the lines such as, “I was made American” (Otherwise she might have said, “I am American”) and “On suffering and animals, inarguably, they do.”


Detailed Analysis

Lines 1–5

Don’t do that when you are dead like this, I said,


Like laundry pinkened on its line.

The poem, ‘Dove, Interrupted’ begins with a reference to the poet’s loved one. The speaker of the poem requests her beloved no to do that. Thereafter, she refers to her sad heart and implores him not to act as her heart does. The person is still squabbling about “the word” inarguably. But the poet does not disclose what this word is. Somehow the first two lines give readers an idea that the person might be leaving her. For this reason, she requests her not to fight over a trivial matter.

Thereafter, the poet quickly shifts to her thoughts, personal in nature, and depicted as a chain of thoughts. According to the poet, she haunts “Versailles”. It is not the French city of Versailles rather a reference to the actual meaning of the word. It is to turn over a couple of times. So, the speaker thinks about a thing over and over. She hates this process. It feels like “meat” hanging in a medieval market for sale. She compares her thoughts to the mutton hanging like laundry “pinkened on its line.”


Lines 6–11

And gold!—a chalice with a cure for living in it.


The weakling’s saddle is worn down from just too much sad attitude.

In the second section of this poem, Brock-Broido refers to the golden chalice that contains “a cure for living in it.” Through this line, the poet presents the theme of appearance vs reality. The golden chalice appears to be containing some life-saving beverage. In reality, it has “a cure for living.” Using a periphrasis, here the poet refers to death.

Then suddenly, the poet thinks of her stepping over the skirt of a royal lady. Here, the poet refers to Elizabeth. But, the poet is again referring to the literal meaning of the word. Whatsoever, she steps over someone’s skirt that is not worn by a common lady. Suddenly, the speaker reminds of some red grapes and compares them to the “vestments” of a “miniature priest.” As someone has plucked the fruits from the tree, he or she disrobed the tree of its “vestments”. The metaphors used in that line are unique enough.

Now, the poet thinks of an old-world sparrow in a shoe made of satin. The image used in this section refers to a sparrow from the old world which lived in a satin show. According to the speaker, the “weakling’s saddle”, a metaphorical reference to its temporary home, is worn down due to its excessive sadness. It means the bird’s depressed heart weakened its body.


Lines 12–19

No one wants to face the “opaque reality” of herself.

                                                                 For the life of me.


On suffering and animals, inarguably, they do.

                                                    I miss your heart, my heart.

In the last section of ‘Dove, Interrupted’, Lucie comes to the subject matter of the poem. According to her, “No one wants to face the “opaque reality” of herself.” Here, the poet refers to her true self that is opaque in her thoughts. She cannot clearly understand the nature of her real “self”. Moreover, she was made American by birth. So there is an American essence in her mind.

In the following line, the poet refers to the insufferable suffering of the soul that is caused by the punishments of the “perishable” body. In this line, the poet projects the conflict between body and soul. Thereafter, she refers to a rabbit named “Maurice” of Vienne trapped in a family cage. The solitude and boredom of the creature reflect the poet’s state of mind. Moreover, the poet ironically remarks, “On suffering and animals, inarguably, they do.” It means animals also suffer in captivity as the heart of a person suffers in confinement. After reading the last line readers can understand that in this poem, Brock-Broido presents the conversation between herself and “her heart”. 


Historical Context

‘Dove, Interrupted’ belongs to Brock-Broido’s poetry collection “Stay, Illusion” (2013). The poem appears two poems after ‘Meditation on the Sources …’ According to Lucie Brock-Broido:

You just can’t push the poem around to make it adhere to the tantrum of your original intention. Instead (if you’re lucky) what happens in its place is the generated or ‘real’ subject.

Dove’ was incubating for at least seven years before it found its way. In its earliest incarnation, it was thrice its length, confected in a scraggly prose, and it was called ‘Cow Watching a Train Go By.’ At the center of the poem was a discussion about nuclear disarmament, accompanied by the wither of shame we all felt about having anointed George W. Bush as leader of the Free World.

In my ‘Dove’ poem (she is a character that slips in from time to time in my new work), it took some years, but, in the end, the cow was finis; Bush was long gone. The real subjects were all there to begin with, but I just had to have the wherewithal to hush and dismantle all that initiating jazz away.

I can bide my time. The poem, finally, had its way with me, discombobulating the clenches of my original volition. A regenerated subject came in to take its place. Eventually the demon editor—that would be my self (and she is even more willful than I!)—took over, after such a long and willful gestation. There was a great hullabaloo of scratching and hollering and scissoring. And then I had my way, my say, with the work at hand, at last.

In this way, the poem, previously titled, ‘Cow Watching a Train Go By’ took a new shape and the poet included personal thoughts into the body of the work.


Similar Poetry

Here is a list of a few poems that are similar to Lucie Brock-Broido’s ‘Dove, Interrupted’.

You can also read about 10 Heartfelt Poems about Depression and 10 of the Best I Miss You Poems.

Sudip Das Gupta Poetry Expert
A complete expert on poetry, Sudip graduated with a first-class B.A. Honors Degree in English Literature. He has a passion for analyzing poetic works with a particular emphasis on literary devices and scansion.

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