Elizabeth Bishop – Language essay

April 20, 2018 General Studies

By focusing deeply on the description of images, it became easier for readers to understand the emotion and intensity of each line. Often times, Bishop would gain inspiration from the images she witnessed with her own eyes. Several of Bishop’s poems are in fact based entirely off of personal experiences and past memories. Elizabeth Bishop guides the reader through descriptive detail, in order to aid them in fully understanding the feeling of her poetry. In this answer I will examine Bishop’s use of language and how it aids the reader in uncovering the intensity of feeling in her poetry.

Elizabeth Bishop has used past memories, personal experiences, and her observations of nature and human life to include in her poems. Many of Bishop’s poems include the mention of animals, such as ‘The Fish’, ‘The Prodigal’, and The Armadillo’. This mention of animals and their behavior is effectively presented and supported with thorough detail. The precise language which Bishop chose to include in her poems, acts as a guideline for uncovering the emotion felt during the time of the experience. Had Bishop not included minor details that she considered to be critical, the chance of assign on the intensity of feeling may have been lost.

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In Bishop’s poem ‘The Fish’, she writes about her experience of catching a “tremendous fish”. By stating in the opening line that the fish was indeed ‘tremendous”, the rest of the poem’s images correspond with a very large fish. In the poem, Bishop writes: “Here and there his brown skin hung in strips like ancient wallpaper, and its pattern or darker brown was like wallpaper: shapes like full-blown roses stained and lost through age. ” From this descriptive quote, we are able to form a solid image of a large, heavy, brown scaled fish.

The fish that Bishop had caught, observed, and later wrote about in this poem. When analyzing poetry, it is important to attempt to merge ones imagination with that of the writers. In this instance, Elizabeth Bishop allows us to effortlessly imagine and feel the emotion of that particular moment. Further in the poem, Bishop makes mention of the eyes belonging to the immense creature. “l looked into his eyes which were far larger than mine but shallower, and yellowed, the irises backed and packed with tarnished tinfoil seen through the lenses of old scratched isinglass. The vivid, carefully selected words reinforce the feeling of the quote and aid the reader in understanding the emotion of the lines. Bishop’s selective vocabulary within her poems may be the result of the hidden emotions she felt while writing them. This is apparent in “First Death in Nova Scotia”. Her clear recollection of the feelings she experienced during her younger cousin’s funeral, may be her reasoning for the choice of diction in the poem. The poem begins as Bishop is taken into the parlor where her cousin, Arthur, is being laid out.

There is reference to a stuffed loon, shot and killed by Arthur ether. The “red glass” eyes of the loon stood out to a younger Bishop, surrounded by mostly white. The mention of color plays a role in ‘First Death in Nova Scotia’, mainly the colors red and white. The analyzing Of colors has taught us that red is closely linked to anger, animosity, blood, and sometimes death. While white is acknowledged as a color of innocence, purity, and light. The unofficial result of these colors combined can possibly mean an innocent death.

One which Bishop finds confusing, and close to her heart. Confusing because her first presence at a funeral is that of someone younger than her, lose to her heart because of the fact that Arthur was close to her age. And the red-eyed loon eyed it from his white, frozen lake” “He had just begun on his hair, a few red strokes, and then Jack Frost had dropped the brush and left him white, forever. ” Nowhere is it more apparent that Bishop uses graphic language to demonstrate emotion and feeling than in ‘Filling Station’. Filling Station’ is a poem which is based on an old gas station which Elizabeth Bishop had come across during her constant travels. The station, small, dirty and worn, is filled with items that seem, at first, out of place. A father, sporting a “dirty, oil- soaked monkey suit”, is assisted by his “greasy sons”. A strong male vibe exists about the place, though the station is referred to as a “family filling station”. As the poem goes on, it is revealed that the “out of place” items, may very well be the result of a female presence.

The items, an “extraneous plant”, a tabor, and a doily, do not fit in next to the “grease-impregnated wickerwork”. Though the laborers are in fact male, revealing a greasy, dirty front, there exists a feminine presence. Vividly described, the filling station does not lack a delicate touch of any sort Each noun, supported by a rueful adjective, supports Elizabeth Bishop’s carefully judged use of language, aiding the reader in uncovering the intensity of feeling in her poetry. Father wears a dirty, oil-soaked monkey suit that cuts him under the arms, and several quick and saucy and greasy sons assist him (it’s a family filling station), all quite thoroughly dirty. ” Elizabeth Bishop effectively uses carefully selected vocabulary, in order to successfully instill verbal imagery into her readers minds. By reinforcing nouns with strong adjectives, Bishop furthered her descriptive style of poetry. It is apparent that the careful detail in each line has established a perception of scenery to each poem.


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