Elizabeth Bishop


Comments & Themes

Study Questions. You can reflect and write a paper on the following topics:

    • Isolated poets in the midst of consolidated groups/schools/generations are a relative rarity. Assess the pros and cons of this status for Elizabeth Bishop.


    • Is 'a non-militant feminist' an oxymoron?


    • How does Bishop's emphasis on landscapes, animals, and children help place her in a specific literary tradition of feminine poetry?


    • How does she manage to escape that corset?


    • What do you think of this choice (or mini-anthology) of poems within the context of Bishops entire oeuvre?


    • "One Art" is often analyzed as Bishop’s one confessional poem. To what extent do you agree?


    • In what ways is the Bishop of “The Man-moth” different from the Bishop of "In the Waiting Room"?


    • "Visits to St Elizabeth's" is mostly surface. It was written after a visit to Ezra Pound who was confined there. How does knowledge of this fact alter your initial reading of the poem?


    • "Sestina" might well be Bishop's best poem. How can relatively strict formal constraints manage to simultaneously underplay the poet's role AND show her at her best?


    • Even though "First Death in Nova Scotia" is a little masterpiece, there is a long way between that child and the epiphanic Elizabeth of "In the Waiting Room." Discuss.