Elizibeth Bishop

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Elizabeth Bishop – Sample Answer 1
Sample Answer 1
This answer, in a slightly edited form, is taken from 'This Is Poetry' by Brian Forristal and Billy Ramsell. It is an excellent book with detailed analysis of the poems on the higher level course. The poetry of Elizabeth Bishop appeals to modern readers for many reasons. There are a number of reasons why the poetry of Elizabeth Bishop appeals to modern readers. In this essay I want to look at three reasons why I think this is particularly so. The first reason I will consider is Bishop's concern with everyday ordinary objects. These are objects that everyone can relate to and understand. However, in the poems of Elizabeth Bishop, 'The Fish' and 'Filling Station' being perfect examples, these mundane objects take on a powerful significance. As such, she allows us to see the world with fresh insight and wonder. The second reason for Bishop's appeal to modern readers is her characterisation of childhood, particularly the loss of childhood innocence. In 'Sestina' and 'In the Waiting Room', Bishop reminds us how childhood can be a troubled time, when innocence and reality collide. Finally, I want to look at Bishop's writings on 'place'. In poems such as 'Questions of Travel', Bishop deals with the timeless issue of where we should be and questions the whole need to travel and experience the world.

Bishop's poetry appeals to modern readers because it allows us to see how the world can be wonderfully interesting if we stop and pay attention to the details. In 'The Fish' for example, Bishop describes a 'tremendous fish' that she has caught. She compares the fish's skin to 'ancient wallpaper' and speaks of the 'rosettes of lime' that she sees. Even that aspect of the fish that she cannot see, its insides and entrails, she imagines in intricate detail.

I thought of the coarse white flesh
packed in like feathers,
the big bones and the little bones,
the dramatic reds and blacks
of his shiny entrails.
The eyes too are...
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