Power and Uncertainty in Elizabeth Bishop?s Poems Essays

Poets throughout history have created countless works that are intended to stimulate and spark emotion from their readers. One poet in particular that has mastered this skill was Elizabeth Bishop. Bishop is a well-known, world-renowned poet whose works facilitated her growing national fame. She was born in Worcester, Massachusetts in 1911. She grew up in New England, and moved to Nova Scotia, Canada shortly after her father passed away and her mother moved on to another man. In the fall of 1930, Bishop then attended Vassar College in Poughkeepsie, New York after completing her basic education. Bishop published her work very sparingly for a major American poet. In 1946, twelve years after graduating with her bachelor’s degree in English literature, Bishop decided to pursue her literary career releasing her first publication, North and South that won the Houghton Mifflin Prize for poetry. Due to its overwhelming popularity and success she decided to edit and re-release in 1955 as Poems: North and South—A Cold Spring, with an additional 18 poems that constituted the “Cold Spring” section. With the new makeover of the book her popularity skyrocketed, winning Bishop the Nobel Prize for Poetry in 1956.Bishop, like many other authors before her wrote about her thoughts and feelings. Questions of Travel (1965) focused on her sights and scenery and her feelings during her time living in Brazil. Brazil (1967) was a travel book of poems that consisted about the different surroundings of Brazil. An Anthology of 20th Century Brazilian Poetry (1972) is exactly what it sounds like, Brazilian Poetry. Geography III (1976), her last publication, earned her the National Book Critics Circle Award. Three years later she died from a cerebral aneurysm…

…ersion of the “bronze cock on a porphyry/pillar” serves to “convince/all the assembly” that the cry of the rooster is not only one of denial. The end of the poem serves to revert back to the backyard dawn the roosters initially announced. The point of view changed from the realm of the sculpture to focus on the gradual growth of nature from “underneath,” as the “low light” of the sun gilds the “broccoli, leaf by leaf.” The emphasis on militarism takes a back seat to Christian forgiveness, which then yields to nature. Bishop doesn’t endorse any one perspective of the rooster’s contradictory symbolic meanings thus preserving the disjunctive quality of the poem. The new order introduced by the sun is ambiguous and unstable as its faithfulness is likened to that of an “enemy, or friend” making the almost “inaudible” roosters withdraw along with their “senseless order”.

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