Comparing Elizabeth Bishop's Poems With Figurative Language

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It is said that it is the hardships of life that make us, and Elizabeth Bishop has seen her fair share. During her lifetime Bishop, translated the upheaval she faced as a child into her poetry. Her work often mirrors the agony experienced in her young life and it is this pain that allowed her to reflect upon the basic human conditions, such as grief and longing, that afflict all mankind. In her poems “Anaphora”, “One Art”, and “Insomnia” Bishop relates an emotion that is universally known (Bishop). Bishop’s early years were not ones to be considered fondly. With the death of her father before her first birthday and the complete mental breakdown of her mother that resulted Bishop was left to her paternal grandparents by the age of five.…show more content…
They deal with the fundamental occurrences that humans experience and are related in such a way that they resonant with a wider audience. Her poem “Anaphora”, so titled after the literary device that deals with the repetition of a phrase at the beginnings of adjacent clauses, reveals an aspect of life that is discreetly hidden by humanity’s own blindness. Without even using anaphora in the poem Bishop vividly describes the repetitive lives we lead and how we drift from each activity of our lives, “the fiery event of everyday in endless endless assent”(Bishop). She begins the poem by examining the start of each day that starts “with so much ceremony”, the day that was only meant for an “ineffable creature” to enjoy (Bishop). However as the next stanza begins there is a sudden shift in direction. No longer is Bishop disguising the repetition of the days, but rather exposes the truth of “the drift of bodies…in spite of all the dreaming” (Bishop). Bishop seems to infer that we all daydream through life without really acknowledging the path we so often travel may be all to well traveled. It is perhaps Bishop’s own dark past that caused her to create this piece or perhaps it was just an astute observation of the human condition. Despite this, Bishop’s “Anaphora” holds a certain truth about out lives. How we so…show more content…
In the poem “One Art”, Bishop examines loss and how it is easily mastered and overcome. We all experience loss, whether it’s the simple loss of “lost door keys” or the loss of the “places, and names, and where it was you meant to travel” (Bishop). None of it causes great suffering or consequence. Bishop is basically stating that loss is, in layman’s terms, no big deal. Loss is a common occurrence that it should be taken with a grain of salt. A loss does not mean failure but rather a simple mishap that cannot be changed but accepted or rather mastered. Bishop successful brings this point to front by repeating the line “the art of losing isn’t hard to master”; by repeating this it is as if Bishop lending a reassuring hand through whatever trials are afflicting. And by juxtaposing simple losses of keys and watches to loss of dreams and ambitions, ”I lost two cities, lovely ones. And, vaster, some realms I owned, two rivers, a continent”, the poem expresses an animated outlook upon the tribulations of life. Rather than succumb to the disasters loss conjures, Bishop instead views each loss as an opportunity to “practice losing farther, losing faster” (Bishop). And by practicing perhaps the losses won’t be as significant as they once seemed

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