Elizabeth Bishop for Leaving Cert

Elizabeth Bishop's poetry is deceptively straightforward and you will have to really try in order to stand out. So here is some material.

Elizabeth Bishop, just like Sylvia Plath, has an interesting biography that you can use to pepper your essay and make it stand out. She lost her father as an infant and her mother became mentally ill. Elizabeth never saw her past the age of five. She lived with her maternal grandparents, but the paternal side insisted on giving her a more priveledged upbringing. She wasn't happy living with them and described that she was "kidnapped" by her paternal grandparents. She was uprooted multiple times as she lived with various relations. It would be a good idea to throw some of this in when speaking about Sestina, First Death in Nova Scotia and The Prodigal.

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You could argue that Bishop was traumatised by the events of her youth and that she never really knew her parents. You can simplify things and say that she was an unusual child referring to her memories in In the waiting room and SestinaShe was bisexual and suffered from depression.

You may add that the only published 77 poems over 3 decades (to give you some idea what this means - Emily Dickinson wrote about 1700 poems). She received an inheritance that allowed her to not have to work for most of her life. Could this have to do with her having time and the mindset to search for deeper meaning in fish (The Fish), filling stations (Filling Station) and the National Geographic (In the Waiting Room)? Same goes for her careful choice of words and attention to detail.

Note how Bishop writes about experiences (I caught a tremendous fish) rather than emotion from first principles. This is more characteristic of American poetry... and Patrick Kavanagh. To understand this look at how Yeats talks about the thoughts of an Irish Airman who is almost certain he is going to die and won't be missed or his feeling on how his nation changed.

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