The Complete Poems: 1927-1979 (Anglais) Broché – 7 décembre 2002
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This collection also includes a number of previously uncollected poems, poems written in Bishop's youth and translations of the work of several poets including Octavio Paz. This collection is truly a treasure of poetry from the greatest American female poet of the last century. I urge anyone with an interest in poetry to pick it up!
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And she was ALWAYS a good poet. This volume proves it by publishing much of her juvenilia alongside more mature, better known poems as the wonderful "Florida", "Sestina", and the majestic "The Fish", a poem I enjoy teaching to my students every semester as a supreme example of imagery (I defy them to find instances of abstract language in the poem; there aren't many). Also included is an astonishing series of translations Bishop rendered over the years, mostly of South American poets, including Octavio Paz.
All in all, this is a treasure trove, a book for the ages, and a reminder of what we lost with Bishop's early death at age 68.
This book is a treasure trove. It rewards multiple readings. Bishop's craftsmanship has ensured that this book will continue to endure even as bigger names of her era fall by the wayside.
The book is in roughly chronological format, and naturally the poems on the whole seem to get better, subtler, through the years (a few things later are a little strange). Armadillo, referred to by Lowell, reads a bit like a companion piece of Skunk Hour: "This is the time of year / when almost every night / the frail, illegal fire balloons appear. / Climbing the mountain height, / Rising toward a saint / still honored in these parts, . . ." I confess my favorite poem here would be "Crusoe in England", a revery: "I felt a deep affection for / the smallest of my island industries. / No, not exactly, since the smallest was / a miserable philosophy. / Because I didn't know enough. / Why didn't I know enough of something? / Greek drama or astronomy? The books / I'd read were full of blanks", and then, back in England, "The knife there on the shelf--/ it reeked of meaning, like a crucifix. / It lived. How many years did I / beg it, implore it, not to break? . . . / Now it won't look at me at all."
One thing I'd mention is, there isn't much in the way of unifying currents through the poems. Yeats, I think, has his Irish legends and politics and a pretty characteristic moral tone. Frost, his woods. Sylvia Plath, her hell. Bishop however comes across as an incidental observer of things. Her poems (even with each of the original collections, except maybe one) vary widely in theme, place, audience, mood. Here's a homage to Robert Lowell, and next an oddly rhyming poem on Rio de Janeiro. One page it's "View of the Capitol from the Library of Congress," next it's "Insomnia" (one of poems here that I guess could be seen as having a sapphic aspect to it). It's as if Bishop were always visiting different places and people and taking in what she came across (in fact, she was often in foreign lands; the cover has a drawing by her in Mexico). I don't necessarily like this aspect of her poetry as a whole--it reminds me of why I'm not a big fan of Katherine Mansfield. But of course that's saying nothing about each poem.
A poem by Manuel Bandeira which Bishop translated (included here) goes: "I would like my last poem thus . . . that it have the beauty of almost scentless flowers . . ." That's what a lot of these poems are like. These are said to be all of Bishop's known poems--she died in 1979--including stuff she wrote at 16 which, as this edition helpfully notes, "appeared in the Walnut Hill School magazine in 1927". It's a handsomely-done edition, with pleasant font and roomy margins. 275 pages.