Self-Identification in Elizabeth Bishop's Poetry

Sarah A. Khuder


Elizabeth Bishop (1911-1979) is one of the most important American poets and short-story writers. She is the Poet Laureate of the United States (1949-1950), Pulitzer Prize winner for poetry (1956), National Book Award winner (1970) and recipient of Neustadt International Award for Literature (1976). Bishop is famous of writing poems implicitly referring to her personal life and suffering. The objective of this research is to study the life and poetry of Elizabeth Bishop and to show how her life is reflected in her poems through self-identification. However, the research is divided into three sections and a conclusion. Section one is an introduction. It consists of two parts. The first part sheds light on Bishop's life, how she grew up, her suffering, the things and persons she lost in her childhood, the places she lived in and their effect on her. The second part of this section deals with her literary career. It tackles her poems, short-stories, style and use of self-identification. Section two is completely devoted to Bishop's poem "Sestina". This poem describes the moment her mother is taken to the asylum. Here, Bishop constructs a picture of a grandmother and a grandchild on a gloomy autumn. She identifies her sadness with the rain, the failing light, the water drops on the iron kettle and drawings. However, the section tackles the paraphrasing, form and analysis of the poem. Section three deals with Bishop's poem "One Art". This poem is a villanelle. At the beginning, the poet talks about losing. She suggests that we get used to loss by losing little things like house keys and wasting time. You become comfortable with these losses and then you would be ready to cope with the big ones. By talking about loss, the poet indirectly identifies her own loss. In the end, she confesses that she is talking about a dear person. Anyway, the section shows the paraphrasing, form and analysis of the poem.

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