Elizabeth Bishop

From Wikiquote
Jump to navigation Jump to search
Elizabeth Bishop in 1964

Elizabeth Bishop (February 8, 1911October 6, 1979) was the Poet Laureate of the United States from 1949 to 1950. She won a Pulitzer Prize in 1956.


  • The ancient owls' nest must have burned.
    Hastily, all alone,
    a glistening armadillo left the scene,
    rose-flecked, head down, tail down
  • The big fish tubs are completely lined
    with layers of beautiful herring scales
    and the wheelbarrows are similarly plastered
    with creamy iridescent coats of mail,
    with small iridescent flies crawling on them.
    • Poem: At the Fishhouses
  • Why should I be my aunt,
    or me, or anyone?
    What similarities
    boots, hands, the family voice
    I felt in my throat, or even
    the National Geographic
    and those awful hanging breasts
    held us all together
    or made us all just one?
    • Poem: In the Waiting Room
  • From a magician's midnight sleeve
    the radio-singers
    distribute all their love-songs
    over the dew-wet lawns.
    • Poem: Late Air

Poems, North and South (1946)

  • The armored cars of dreams contrived to let us do
    so many a dangerous thing.
    • Poem: Sleeping standing up
  • Topography displays no favorites; North's as near as West.
    More delicate than the historians' are the map-makers' colors.
    • Poem: The Map

Quotes about

  • I love Elizabeth Bishop, and I think that in Latin America she's really well known. I think she's much more well known than Lowell, I think because of her experience in Brazil...I think that Brazil allowed Elizabeth Bishop to be herself
  • I had felt drawn, but also repelled, by Bishop's early work-I mean repel in the sense of refusing access, seeming to push away. In part, my difficulties with her were difficulties in the poetry, of Bishop as a young poet finding her own level and her own language. But in part they were difficulties I brought with me, as a still younger woman poet already beginning to question sexual identity, looking for a female genealogy, still not yet consciously lesbian. I had not then connected the themes of outsiderhood and marginality in her work, as well as its encodings and obscurities, with a lesbian identity. I was looking for a clear female tradition; the tradition I was discovering was diffuse, elusive, often cryptic. Yet, especially given the times and customs of the 1940s and 1950s, Bishop's work now seems to me remarkably honest and courageous. Women poets searching for older contemporaries in that period were supposed to look to "Miss" Marianne Moore as the paradigm of what a woman poet might accomplish, and, after her, to "Miss" Bishop. Both had been selected and certified by the literary establishment, which was, as now, white, male, and at least ostensibly heterosexual. Elizabeth Bishop's name was spoken, her books reviewed with deep respect. But attention was paid to her triumphs, her perfections, not to her struggles for self-definition and her sense of difference. In this way, her reputation made her less, rather than more, available to me. The infrequency of her public appearances and her geographic remoteness-living for many years in Brazil, with a woman as it happened, but we didn't know that-made her an indistinct and a problematic life model for a woman poet.
  • Until recently this female anger and this furious awareness of the Man's power over her were not available materials to the female poet, who tended to write of Love as the source of her suffering, and to view that victimization by Love as an almost inevitable fate. Or, like Marianne Moore and Elizabeth Bishop, she kept sexuality at a measured and chiseled distance in her poems.

Wikipedia has an article about:
Wikimedia Commons has media related to: