Introduction to Elizabeth Bishop


Elizabeth Bishop is a truly extraordinary and original poet. She is famous for her mastery of the casual speaking voice and for painterly descriptions that literally shimmer on the page. In Bishop’s poetry, you will find that the effort to catch what is specific and essential about a thing or place is both conscious and rigorous. She is an absolute perfectionist. Her images are vivid, sharp and memorable, but they are also suggestive and rich. As you get to know the poetry of Elizabeth Bishop, you will come to feel that no Bishop image could have come from anybody else. At first glance, Bishop appears to be totally outward looking. … Continue reading

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Elizabeth Bishop – The Fish (Sample Essay)


‘The Fish’ is a narrative poem, told in the first person, about a confrontation between an amateur fisher woman, fishing in a ‘little rented boat’ and a ‘tremendous’ battle-worn fish. The narrative can be summed up quickly. The speaker catches an impressive, old fish and holds it “half out of water, with my hook / fast in the corner of his mouth”. After examining the fish closely and sympathetically, she discovers that this interesting animal has a heroic past and in a moment of recognition or epiphany, she lets the fish go. Summarized, the poem sounds unremarkable. To leave it at that would be to commit, what Brooks calls: “the … Continue reading

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