Thursday, June 07, 2007 06/07/07-Elizabeth Bishop

In today's encore excerpt, the poet Elizabeth Bishop (1911-1979):

"John Ashberry's praise for Bishop as a 'writer's writer's writer', whose work 'inspires in writers of every sort' an 'extraordinarily intense loyalty' seems apt. ...

"[A]t the time of her death, she had assembled fewer than ninety poems. ... She could mull over a draft for more than a decade in wait for the right line or word. ... Bishop's reticence seems less a matter of timidity and more of perfectionism, a trait now synonymous with her name. ... Part of Bishop's appeal involves the contrast between the work published in her lifetime ... and the pain and disorder of her often very messy life..."

Excerpts from her work:

The art of losing isn't hard to master.
So many things seem filled with the intent
To be lost that their loss is no disaster

from One Art

The intimidating sound
of these voices
we must separately find
can and shall be vanquished:
Days and Distance disarrayed again
and gone
both for good and from the gentle battleground.

from Argument

Elizabeth Bishop, The Complete Poems, 1927-1979


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