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Joseph Brodsky, a poet and essayist, wrote a small book about Venice, Italy, one of his favorite places.

Read the following passage in which Brodsky describes a morning in Venice. As you read, think about what kind of impression or feeling his description evokes.
In winter you wake up in this city, especially on Sundays, to the chiming of its innumerable bells, as though behind your gauze curtains a gigantic china teaset were vibrating on a silver tray in the pearl-gray sky. You fling the window open and the room is instantly flooded with this outer, pearl-laden haze, which is part damp oxygen, part coffee and prayers. No matter what sort of pills, and how many, you've got to swallow this morning, you feel it's not over for you yet. No matter, by the same token, how autonomous you are, how much you've been betrayed, how thorough and dispiriting is your self-knowledge, you assume there is still hope for you, or at least a future. (Hope, said Francis Bacon, is a good breakfast but a bad supper.) This optimism derives from the haze, from the prayer part of it, especially if it is time for breakfast. On days like this, the city indeed acquires a porcelain aspect, what with all its zinc-covered cupolas resembling teapots or upturned cups, and the tilted profile of campaniles clinking like abandoned spoons and melting in the sky. Not to mention the seagulls and pigeons, now sharpening into focus, now melting into air.

— From Watermark
©1992 by Joseph Brodsky
Step 1: What impression or feeling does Brodsky's description evoke? What is Venice like on a Sunday morning? Write your response in the box below:

Step 2: Often when we write descriptions, we use imagery that appeals to the five senses.

What images does Brodsky use to show what Venice is like in the morning?

Step 3: Brodsky compares the city of Venice to a teaset. Why do you think he uses this particular comparison?

Have you received an assignment that calls for description? Do Your Own is a section that can help you get started. We also have some samples of CUNY assignments that ask for description.

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