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Elizabeth Bishop by Isaac Hodel

Page history last edited by PBworks 13 years, 4 months ago




Elizabeth Bishop



Elizabeth Bishop was born in Worcester, Massachusetts and lived from (1911-1979). At the age of one Elizabeth’ father died, at the age of five her mother was committed to a hospital deemed ‘permanently insane’. Elizabeth then lived for a brief time with her mother’s family in Nova Scotia. After a few years with her grandparents on her mothers side her fathers parents decided to take her in and then moved her back to Worcester. Soon after that her aunt Maud Bulmer Shepherdson took her and she spent the remainder of her childhood in South Boston. After her graduation from Walnut Hill School for Girls, Bishop entered the Vassar College class of 1934. At Vassar, Bishop, along with others started writing an underground literary magazine; Con Spirito which aimed to publish more socially aware reviews of literary works.  In 1951 Bishop traveled to South America, she fell ill and was left in Brazil where she met and fell in love with Lota de Macedo Soares. After accepting an offer to work in United States Bishop moved to New York, where she awaited the arrival of her love. When Lota de Macedo Soares arrived she overdosed on tranquilizers the night of her arrival. Bishop then took up a teaching post at Harvard university, where she wrote and published many more works.  (http://www.poets.org/poet.php/prmPID/7 [Biography of Elizabeth Bishop], http://www.english.uiuc.edu/Maps/poets/a_f/bishop/about.htm [Biography works of Elizabeth Bishop])



One Art

(Link in title)

The art of losing isn't hard to master;
so many things seem filled with the intent
to be lost that their loss is no disaster.

Lose something every day. Accept the fluster
of lost door keys, the hour badly spent.
The art of losing isn't hard to master.

Then practice losing farther, losing faster:
places, and names, and where it was you meant
to travel. None of these will bring disaster.

I lost my mother's watch. And look! my last, or
next-to-last, of three loved houses went.
The art of losing isn't hard to master.

I lost two cities, lovely ones. And, vaster,
some realms I owned, two rivers, a continent.
I miss them, but it wasn't a disaster.

--Even losing you (the joking voice, a gesture I love)
I shan't have lied. It's evident
the art of losings not too hard to master
though it may look like (Write it!) like disaster.

"One Art" is a poem about loss. The key to reading it is the last stanza, the line "Even losing you I shan't have lied..."

is about the loss affecting Elizabeth Bishop more then she would admit to herself. The idea of life is full of loss,

things are meant not to be around forever is one of the ideas she is trying to get across. The second stanza is her

way of saying that the small things in life that we lose are not the ones that we should worry about. The third stanza

is about loss being a blessing in disguise, by being ill and getting left in Brazil she met the love of her life. The fourth

stanza she is using a metaphor of her mothers sanity being a time piece, and the loss of her mothers watch as the loss

of her mother’s sanity, and her mother in her life. The houses, continent, and realms are the loss of travel, as well as

the loss of the places she grew up in. The last stanza is about the loss of Lota de Macedo Soares and how the loss of

anything is not something one can master, and how every loss has its affect on her.(http://www.english.uiuc.edu/Maps/poets/a_f/bishop/about.htm)


Suicide of a Moderate Dictator



This is a day when truths will out, perhaps;

leak from the dangling telephone ear-phones

sapping the festooned switchboard’s strength;

fall from the windows, blow from off the sills,

—the vague, slight unremarkable contents

of emptying ash-trays; rub off on our fingers

like ink from un-proof-read newspapers,

crocking the way the unfocused photographs

of crooked faces do that soil our coats,

our tropical-weight coats, like slapped-at moths.

Today’s a day when those who work

are idling. Those who played must work

and hurry, too, to get it done,

with little dignity or none.

The newspapers are sold; the kiosk shutters

crash down. But anyway, in the night

the headlines wrote themselves, see, on the streets

and sidewalks everywhere; a sediment’s splashed

even to the first floor of apartment houses.

This is a day that’s beautiful as well,

and warm and clear. At seven o’ clock I saw

the dogs being walked along the famous beach

as usual, in a shiny gray-green dawn,

leaving their paw prints draining in the wet.

The line of breakers was steady and the pinkish,

segmented rainbow steadily hung above it.

At eight two little boys were flying kites.



This poem draws on the feelings people have for certain images to portray the meaning of everyday beauty. There is a certain feeling of people being at ease, taking each day for what it is. The imagery of things having a certain feel when touched is one of the ways Bishop brings across the point of every seemingly meaningless object of the day has a connection to each other, as well as the day as a whole would not be complete without these things. The last stanza however appeals to the senses of what people generally see as beauty. The colors of a sunrise,which we know because of the time of day she adds, as well as the images of a beach. Not just any beach but a famous one which leads us to believe there is a good reason for it being famous. The use of paw prunts being in the sand are a way for Elizabeth to show that although we may leave an imprint,  our  footsteps can be washed away by the tide. (http://www.english.uiuc.edu/Maps/poets/a_f/bishop/about.htm)













Comments (6)

Anonymous said

at 9:18 am on May 10, 2007

Very well done! The explainations really helped to add more depth and meaning to the poems for me! :)

Anonymous said

at 9:19 am on May 10, 2007

I do not know what it is about poets, but depressing subject matter brings out the creative nature in them. In the poem "One Art" Elizabeth talks about her losing things in life which is what you discussed in your explaination. But the title in the other poem "Suicide of a Moderate Dictator" really as no relavancy to the poem about lovely things in life that are all around us.

Anonymous said

at 9:23 am on May 10, 2007

Good poetry, this lady seems to be really interesting. Hard life from what you wrote. CW

Anonymous said

at 9:39 am on May 10, 2007

Your analysis of One Art is insightful. I agree that she is lying to herself about how hard it is to lose.

Anonymous said

at 9:41 am on May 10, 2007

Your interpretations were very laid out and made a lot of sense to me. In the first poem I think along with everything you wrote, she is also trying to accpet the fact that in life there is loss. The second one just overall made it clear to me after I read the interpretation. Good work! -bre Erickson

Anonymous said

at 9:45 am on May 10, 2007

You know what you're doing. Thanks for helping me understand this poet. I didnt even realize i enjoyed her poetry until now. =)

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