Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Geography III

I found Geography III to be a fitting title for Elizabeth Bishop’s collection of poetry. It read rather like a textbook, giving lessons in the geography of the emotions, as if you could read them with maps. Also, Geography played a major role in her poem, “In the Waiting Room,” for the narrator is reading a National Geographic at the time of her disillusionment. Geography is found again in the repetition of the reader being told time and place, as if Bishop is trying to focus on exactly where she is to distract herself from having to think about everything else all of the time.

The epigraph from “First Lessons in Geography” is also fitting, because the excerpt seems to mirror the emotion felt in the happenings of her poems. One can feel the emotion building up to the edge of catharsis. It starts by asking rather simple questions with childish answers, but builds into asking fifteen unanswerable questions; unanswerable because we do not have the much needed map.

My personal experiences with Elizabeth Bishop were rather eventful. Having only ever read “One Art,” I was surprised at how her other poems were almost, dare I say, better. Don’t get me wrong, that’s a good poem. I really enjoyed the voice in which she spoke, the modest tones. It made her seem very humble and honest, which are both very good characteristics to have in a speaking voice. Perhaps I may just be biased on account of her being a lesbian though, which is rather cool as well…

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