Elizabeth Bishop and 'The Moose ..

This is quite unlike, for example, Adrienne Rich's poem "Trying to Talk with aMan," where the imagery of nuclear bomb-testing is not the major issue at stake butis rather a trope for understanding the combative relations between the sexes. For Bishop,World War I suggests a danger, as does nuclear testing for Rich. But that danger is notone that arises because of gender-identification or sex roles, unlike the"danger" Rich specifically mentions. Instead, it is the possibility of violencedone by any human being to another, on an individual, tribal, or global level: a woman toher baby, a man to another man, etc. Bishop wishes to make a large suggestion about theperplexity - the "unlikeliness" -of being human. And she wants to be sure tomake it through the perception of an individual, an "Elizabeth."

Analysis of Elizabeth Bishops the Moose;

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While there is a quiet, even suppressed presence of homoeroticism in some ofBishop's work - most notably in some uncollected poems - for the poem Edelman examines ingreatest detail, "In the Waiting Room," a study of lesbian awakening does notappear to be the most fruitful reading of this poem. . . what the speaker, Elizabeth,reads in the copy of is more than the pictures and descriptionsof naked women, but also the possibility of cannibalism and decoration of babies throughmutilation.

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17 Mar 2014 Leaving CertificateEnglish Appeal of Elizabeth Bishop's Poetry - Sample EssayApril 20, 2014In "English Derek Mahon: Sympathetic Poetry

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"How had I come to be like them?" we may read this sentence as asking,and the child seems to expend an almost petulant energy in the various repetitions of thisquestion. A number of critics have interpreted the burden of the poem as the child’ssense of "connectedness," to use Bonnie Costello’s term (see [Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1991], p. 119).Critics like Lois Cucullu and Lee Edelman imply a transformation of this sense into afeeling of solidarity along gender lines. The poem’s persistent refusal to interpretitself, however, makes available another attitude toward the feelings of aversion anddistress it so powerfully generates. In a draft of "the Country Mouse," thechild remarked to herself, "I was in for it now I would get old and fat likethat woman opposite me" (Elizabeth Bishop papers, Vassar College Library). When thepoet asks, "What similarities /made us all just one?" this"just" indicates that the thought entails a sense of diminishment, one thatmakes the child resist this levelling equivalence of self and other. The young Elizabethmight be seen as rejecting with all her energies the horrifying knowledge that she is likethe people with whom she shares the waiting room. This knowledge is presented in imagerythat resembles that of "At the Fishhouses," where knowledge is presented as aburning, uninhabitable liquid: "The waiting room was bright / and too hot. It wassliding / beneath a big black wave, / another, and another." Indeed. The entire worldseems to become insufficiently distinct and separate, as the "night and slush"outside echo the "big black wave" breaking inside.

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Two poems from Bishop's last volume, by means of apparentlycontrasting yet structurally similar experiences. "In the Waiting Room" and"The Moose" both explore the self’s relation to others as they articulate amoment that interrupts the continuous act of sublimation that enables us to preserve anongoing constitutive identity. In each poem, the crisis of that interruption is resolvedthrough a gesture of reunion with life beyond the self that allows identity toreconstitute itself in a recognizable form. These poems delineate an ecstasis that recallsthe vertiginous psychic shifts of the experiential Sublime. "In the WaitingRoom," strangers isolated by anxiety and anonymity come together, their statusprovisional, for they are on the outside waiting to go in. In "The Moose" theliminal is again invoked as strangers embark on a communal journey only to await theirarrival at various destinations. Against these provisional environments, Bishop introducesimages of family. The bus passengers in "The Moose" catch a glimpse of a womanshaking out a tablecloth. Anonymous voices float softly from the back of the bus (therecesses of the mind?) to create a soothing lullaby of conversation that retells thehistory of people's lives. But the family is not the narrator's own; if the recollectionsdraw her back into her past, it is through the aura of remembrance created by others'voices.

Chapter 2 – A Casualty of Colonialism

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While "The Bight" may be among the clearest, most sustainedinstances of the aesthetic containment of the aggressive in the matter-of-fact,elsewhere, in both her poetry and prose, Bishop addresses related processes ofthe mind's striving to find ways to preserve its equilibrium in the face ofinner- or externally-derived attack. The question of the origins of theaggressive impulse and its object is reiterated in both the late poem "Inthe Waiting Room" and the prose narrative, "In the Village".Although others, most notably Lee Edelman, have written at length on "Inthe Waiting Room", I wish to focus on the dynamics specifically associatedwith the handling of aggression. In this poem, the almost-seven-year-oldElizabeth passes the time in the dentist's waiting room reading the and "carefully" studying photographs that representvarious kinds and consequences of aggression: