T.S. Eliot once said that genuine poetry can communicate before it is understood. I feel that this is true of Bishop’s poetry. Elizabeth Bishop is unlike any of the other poets I have studied. Her poetry is deeply emotional and confessional and many of her sources of inspiration are quite unusual. However, there is no doubt that she is a talented poet and I really enjoyed studying her poetry. Bishop experienced great loss during her life. This grief is evident throughout her poetry. “First Death in Nova Scotia” is a poignant recollection of a painful childhood memory. Bishop uses creative child-like imagery to depict the over whelming sadness surrounding the death of the poet’s young cousin. Bishop takes the disturbing image of a white coffin and compares it to a “little frosted cake”, an image that the child Bishop can relate to. Similarly in this poem the simplicity of the language and the use of broad vowel sounds “cold, cold parlor” suggest an unhappy childhood. “Sestina” is also a very grief ridden poem. An obvious feature of this poem is the repetition of the word “tears” in every verse. This repetition keeps the pain of loss in my mind as I read the poem. The over-whelming sadness Bishop felt as a child is well communicated in the line “the teacup full of dark brown tears”. This memorable metaphor shows me the full extent of her grief and I can understand why it took her so long to come to terms with it. By the end of the poem I feel that the poet is ready to “plant tears” and put the pains of the past behind her. Unfortunately this metaphor had a much more sinister meaning as the childhood angst she suffered from losing her parents grew and dominated much of her lie. Bishop raises many questions in her poetry. The question of home is often discussed in Bishop’s poetry. During her life Bishop never experienced what a real home was like and I feel this absence is greatly reflected in her poem “Questions of Travel”. This absence is most...
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