Searching for Elizabeth Bishop

A sideways view of Bishop
Photo from Wikipedia


Adrift, adrift so young,
a kettle sang through the tears
as you walked the winding pathways
to many different doors.

Memories fill your poems.
The pale death of young Arthur,
your uncle’s trophy loon,
A wet-eyed grandmother.

They drift before
your childhood eyes,
frosted and cold
like the Nova Scotia snow.
.
You set a sandpiper
to search through the grains of sand,
looking for order amongst the quartz.
What did you find?

A puzzling world.
Of hungry, desperate burglars watched through gold-rimmed glass.
Of nature’s obvious beauty condensed for busy folk.
Of many things not right.

It was easier to lose than to find.
Yet, still you searched
for happier days ahead.
And hoped to forget the passing of less happy ones.

Laura was hosting at dVerse last night (https://dversepoets.com/2021/05/18/poetics-poems-to-a-poet/) and set the challenge of choosing “ONE of our favourite poets (a celebrated or a lesser known one) and (to) write a poem either

About them
Or
Addressing them in the direct voice
your title must include the poet’s name
try and employ something of the poet’s style
there are no rules for meter or poetry form
those who choose the direct voice, might like the extra challenge of an ODE.”

I chose Elizabeth Bishop, who I was introduced to through my degree a couple of years ago. I cannot claim, however, that I have been successful in employing her writing style. For anyone who knows her work, I hope they will identify the references to a number of her poems. There was often a theme of searching for a sense of belonging in her work, which I have tried to reflect.

16 thoughts on “Searching for Elizabeth Bishop

  1. I first came across Elizabeth Bishop when I was teaching English at a local high school and I entered one of my students into the Poetry by Heart competition. She considered reciting one of her poems in the first or second heat of the competition. The opening stanza sets the tone for the whole of your poem, and I especially love the kettle singing through the tears, and the hint of Nova Scotia snow. These lines stood out for me:
    ‘You set a sandpiper
    to search through the grains of sand,
    looking for order amongst the quartz.’
    By the way, her Moth Man gave me nightmares.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I have heard but haven’t read her poems yet. This piece of yours is a beautiful introduction and i felt the hope she carried before. Especially through these lines:
    It was easier to lose than to find.
    Yet, still you searched

    Liked by 1 person

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