The Complete Poems- 1927-1979 Hardcover – 1 Jan 1983
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Elizabeth Bishop was vehement about her art--a perfectionist who didn't want to be seen as a "woman poet". In 1977, two years before her death she wrote, "art is art and to separate writings, paintings, musical compositions, etc., into two sexes is to emphasize values in them that are not art." She also deeply distrusted the dominant mode of modern poetry, one practiced with such detached passion by her friend Robert Lowell, the confessional.
Bishop was unforgiving of fashion and limited ways of seeing and feeling, but cast an even more trenchant eye on her own work. One wishes this volume were thicker, though the perfections within mark the rightness of her approach. The poems are sublimely controlled, fraught with word play, fierce moral vision (see her caustic ballad on Ezra Pound, "Visits to St Elizabeths") and reticence. From the surreal sorrow of the early "Man-Moth" (leaping off from a typo she had come across for "mammoth"), about a lonely monster who rarely emerges from "the pale subways of cement he calls his home", to the beauty of her villanelle "One Art" (with its repeated "the art of losing isn't hard to master"), the poet wittily explores distance and desolation, separation and sorrow. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
Beautiful new edition of Bishop's Complete Poems with a new Introduction by Tom Paulin, poet, academic & favourite of BBC 2's Newsnight Review audiences --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.See all Product description
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The first poem in the collection, 'The Map', explores the importance of place, whilst 'Questions of Travel' marks a shift in her ideology. Bishop questions: "Is it right to be watching strangers in a play/ in this strangest of theatres?" and wonders whether we should "have stayed at home,/ wherever that may be?"
Bishop's detailed observations are perhaps most extraordinary in her contemplation of animals. Her animal poems, including 'The Moose', 'The Fish' and 'Roosters' are curious and insightful in their exploration of the animal kingdom and the effects animals have on humans.
In addition the wonders of childhood are developed in many of her poems, with 'Sestina' and 'First Death in Nova Scotia' being especially poignant in their pathos.
Bishop's accessible style makes the reading of her 'Complete Poems' a treat. You cannot help but become enthralled by the mysterious poet.
I was worried that it was going to be like when you hear a good song on the radio and so you go out and buy that album and it turns out that the actual album is rubbish, but that was not the case with this book. I love it.
Fairly remunerated she was not by my humble Bristol Community College (MA), where she gave readings three years in a row in the late 70s, when she'd come back from Brazil--and when her longtime Brazilian friend committed suicide. One of those "readings" she played and discussed sambas--how everyone in Brazil wrote them, the janitor, the poet laureate. She played a few on an old 78 phonograph, to an audience of perhaps 25, while our community college students on break from class were in the next "room" (divided by a supposed wall, movable) playing rock on 6' speakers by their pool table. I recall thinking at the time: One major trouble with modern life is that the wrong people (and interests) have the best megaphones and speakers.
Since Rhoda was her friend, Bishop came to talk for a Department outlay of $100, too low for administrators to care about the event. A decade earlier we had had Ginsberg and even WH Auden (then priced at $3500) to read. By the late 80s, no adminstrator knew the distinguished history of our poetry readings, and when they came up with $1500 inflated dollars to tinvite a Pawtucket poet (with some name, yes), they bragged about "our first prominent poetry reading." We had also, in the 80s, had Marge Piercy from the Cape, and I would invite several including Alan Dugan.
I think Bishop is the Dickinson of my lifetime: low, under the radar of fame and celebration until quite late in her life, though always known to the best editors and people like Roethke. Bishop tinkered with her great vilanelle "One Art" for years at Rhoda Sheehan's Hurricane House--perhaps the central achievement of Westport in verse, though we have housed in summers distinguished profs and critics galore, including from the New Yorker and the NYT.
This is poetry at its best: creative, clever, moving and ALWAYS comprehensible. The copy I received although far from new, was in fine condition.
Ms Bishop's beautifully couched observations on life and on the human condition will, I'm sure, help me see all in a new light for many years to come.
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but I would highly recommend it to others as Elizabeth Bishop
is a wonderful poet.
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