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The Complete Poems, 1927-1979

4.18 of 5 stars 4.18  ·  rating details  ·  8,316 ratings  ·  196 reviews
Highly regarded throughout her prestigious literary career, and today seen as an undeniable master of her art, Elizabeth Bishop remains one of America's most influential and widely acclaimed poets. This is the definitive collection of her work. The Complete Poems includes the books North & South, A Cold Spring, Questions of Travel, and Geography III, as well as previou ...more
Paperback, 272 pages
Published April 1st 1984 by Farrar, Straus and Giroux (first published 1969)
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I really wanted to like this collection. I did enjoy One Art:

One Art

The art of losing isn't hard to master;
so many things seem filled with the intent
to be lost that their loss is no disaster.

Lose something every day. Accept the fluster
of lost door keys, the hour badly spent.
The art of losing isn't hard to master.

Then practice losing farther, losing faster:
places, and names, and where it was you meant
to travel. None of these will bring disaster.

I lost my mother's watch. And look! my last, or
I cannot be objective: Bishop was a friend since HS, throughout the Vassar College years and beyond, of my mentor and patron Rhoda Sheehan; in fact, Bishop rented Rhoda's "Hurricane House" that floated over Westport Harbor in the '38 hurricane. That's where I met her once, individually, and asked her about prosody. I never realized until I read a Bishop biography, maybe Remembering Elizabeth Bishop, how much effort Rhoda must have put into getting Bishop to talk to me. She dreaded students, even ...more
Very few Bishop poems touch overtly on the subject of romantic love. The following poem does, and it tugs on one's heartstrings as deftly as any Lucinda Williams country song:


The moon in the bureau mirror
looks out a million miles
(and perhaps with pride, at herself,
but she never, never smiles)
far and away beyond sleep, or
perhaps she's a daytime sleeper.

By the Universe deserted,
SHE'd tell it to go to hell,
and she'd find a body of water,
or a mirror, on which to dwell.
So wrap up care in a

Elizabeth, I liked some of your poems, found some of them beautiful, or touching or delicately structured. Not especially profound, but you don't strike me as having invested much in the profound, rather the fleeting, the unintended and the suddenly honest. You also did not speak often of love, except perhaps in your manuscript poems, which you hid and which did not escape until after your death. So much for the love poems. They were some or your best, by the way-- if only you had been bolder a
In the May 14, 2009 issue of The London Review of Books, Colm Tóibín writes that in the poems of Elizabeth Bishop, "Description was a desperate way of avoiding self-description; looking at the world was a way of looking out from the self." He goes on to say that "The fact that the world was there was both enough and far too little for Bishop. Its history or her own history were beside the point." Given that the lyric mode† has become the dominant mode of contemporary poetry (as opposed to epic o ...more
Elizabeth Bishop is one of the top five poets writing in English of the 20th C. She writes poems of such simplicity and beauty, about her hard childhood in Nova Scotia, and her time in Brazil with her girlfriend, which ended in suicide and heartbreak. The emotion in the poems is always controlled by perfect language and images that retain their freshness.
Some of my favorite poems are "First Death in Nova Scotia", "At the Fish-houses", "Cape Breton", "One Art", and "Manuelzinho"
This book should really just be on my "currently-reading" list and remain there permanently. I have never fallen for a poet so quickly and fully. I love her choice of words, her diversity in subject matter, her voice comes through so clearly to me. I have had a harder time with some of the poems that are centered around people or places in Brazil. In general, I like that her poems are not overly cryptic; its pretty easy to know what she's talking about.
Sherry Chandler
Bishop forces me to slow down and savor -- I don't always want to do that but when I do the rewards are great.
It seems absurd to write a review of a book like this, but the one-star "I had to read this in class and I don't like poetry" reviews made me so sad that I had to put something here.

Bishop's poems are tender, funny, prickly, utterly observant, deeply wise. And if you learn nothing about her personal life from her poems (compared with, say Robert Lowell or Sylvia Plath) yet she is undeniably herself alone in her poems: "you are an I,/you are an Elizabeth,/you are one of them." She demands to be
Roger Pettit
Elizabeth Bishop's childhood was typical of that experienced by many great artists: it was suffused with tragedy. Her father died before she had her first birthday. Her mother was mentally ill. As a result, Elizabeth spent her formative years living with various relatives, some of whom were not kind or friendly to her. This may account for the cool, impersonal style of much of her poetry, most of which is collected in this very good book.

Elizabeth Bishop's poetry demonstrates her great percepti
Ally Atherton
Book 39 Complete Poems - Elizabeth Bishop

I must say that I have a love hate relationship with poetry, I like some poetry but I hate a lot of it ! For me it is the snobbery that surrounds the world of poetry that I don't like. Personally I love to be able to read a poem without having to have a degree in the history and workings of poetry, if a poem doesn't make sense then I don't like it. And I don't want to know about iambics or any of that stuff to be able to appreciate a piece of writing. I h
This was a high school assignment I was not fond of at the time; picked it up again this week in the hope that I had merely been prejudiced at the time. It was a mostly-vain hope.

I do not understand why one of the blurbs on the back claims that Bishop is a great poet. There are maybe half a dozen pieces in here which could possibly justify that claim, and while that is half a dozen more than many people ever write, I would like to think that true greatness demands a little more than that. Like i
Feb 16, 2011 David added it
Elizabeth Bishop - One Art

The art of losing isn't hard to master;
so many things seem filled with the intent
to be lost that their loss is no disaster.

Lose something every day. Accept the fluster
of lost door keys, the hour badly spent.
The art of losing isn't hard to master.

Then practice losing farther, losing faster:
places, and names, and where it was you meant
to travel. None of these will bring disaster.

I lost my mother's watch. And look! my last, or
next-to-last, of three loved houses went.
The a
An absolutely stunning collection! Elizabeth Bishop & Sylvia Plath are, in my opinion, the greatest American female poets of the 20th Century. Their work is timeless. Their poetry consisted of a depth & brilliance that is absent from poetry today.

*4.25/5 stars*
Rebecca Lorenzo
--Even losing you (the joking voice, a gesture
I love) I shan't have lied. It's evident
the art of losing's not too hard to master
though it may look like (Write it!) like disaster.

Elizabeth Bishop may not always be my cup of tea, but "One Art" gets me every time.
ɑƨħŵɑɡ ♥Team Magnus Damora FOREVER♥
Since I read One Art for my English Major in English Literature more than 4 years ago the only thing I wanted was to read for Elizabeth Bishop, among other poets and novelists like Sylvia Plath and Elizabeth Gaskell.

One Art is still my #1 favorite even after reading this one. However, I found some other poems that had captured my interest like Argument, Conversation, In the Waiting Room, February 1918, Insomnia, Letter to N.Y., Manners, Sonnet (1979)

I find Bishop's contemplative poems beautiful.
Gabriel Oak
I've come to love Elizabeth Bishop more and more upon multiple re-readings. She is in my mind the most accomplished lyric poet of postwar America. Her poems are characterized by incredible precision--I often get the sense reading them that the poem grew up around specific words rather than words being found to fit the poem. For example, the following lines from "Poem" (in Geography III), in which the poet meditates on an old postcard: "Life and the memory of it cramped, / on a piece of Bristol b ...more
Katie Herring
I've read about 10 poems for my contemporary class and I've loved them. I just wrote a paper on "Questions of Travel."

I'll slowly make my way through the rest of the anthology.


I've read through the whole thing, absolutely wonderful. Not all of the poems I connected with, but the ones I did I loved. So many of the lines are still resonating in my mind.
Peter Landau
There’s no denying Elizabeth Bishop’s artistry. Her poems are polished to a blinding shine, which may be my problem with them. I had to turn away. Maybe it’s her perfectionism. I’m more attracted to failure, or at least to rough edges. They give me a foothold. It wasn’t until I was trying to wake up my five-year-old daughter earlier this week, and I happened to have this book in my hand, that I found an entry point. Or a weapon. I told my daughter I was going to read her poetry until she got out ...more
Ok. I know I should like it. Jimmy and Paul and Misty do, this Bishop with her fists, and drawn on the window in front of the sea like that, traveling, and I know there's a vernacular quality that feels easy but isn't. But I'll be damned, woman, you just can't turn me on.
Sidik Fofana
SIX WORD REVIEW: Twisted descriptions of nature and lichen.
Chelsea Rectanus
I would tattoo Sestina to my forehead if I was drunk enough. Spectacular.
Mr. Brammer
Possibly my favorite poem of all time, "Skunk Hour" by Robert Lowell, is dedicated to Elizabeth Bishop, so I had to check her out.

Many of these poems are impressionistic, capturing a moment - like "Late Air". Some use extended metaphor, like "The Unbeliever" - taking a line from John Bunyan about the dangers of unbelief and twisting it into something different - making it seem that the atheist is both able to dream differently than those on the deck below:

Asleep he was transported there
asleep h
Diann Blakely
What would Elizabeth Bishop have thought about National Poetry month? An early advocate for the art's democratization, the late poet William Matthews, reminded practitioners that “the work of the body becomes a body of work.” Nothing of poets lives on except their lines, and I think Bishop would be have been in accord with both his work in the community and his words.

Even if I'm wrong, memorable lines are bewilderingly ubiquitous in FSG’s centennial birthday gift of Bishop’s POEMS. Enough has be
I had never read Elizabeth Bishop. In my mind, I realize, I subconsciously lumped her together with Marianne Moore and Emily Dickinson, but recently her name came up in a book about the artist Enrique Martinez Celaya, which mentioned her along with poets including Paul Celan, Tomas Transtormer, Rilke and Miguel Hernandez, I went to my bookcase where I'd had this book for years and gave her another try.

I can see why I hadn't warmed to her whenever it was I'd purchased this book to begin with. She

a big thing on the poetry scene was the publication of 120 unpublished poems from elizabeth bishop's notebooks, including one she crossed out. helen vendler, our most divine critic, denounced it as a complete betrayal of bishop's triumphantly sparse enterprise (89 poems), while the ny times critic said that since bishop is a 20th century figure on a par with shakespeare and hendrix, these cullings are of inestimable interest and usefulness, so that makes it ok.

it's fine to publish them. she is e
EB is my "remarkable poet," a past mind that understands me without ever having known me. She belongs to the school of Confessionalism (touted by the likes of the famous Robert Lowell), and I believe she to be the most illustrious, gifted, of all of them. Even for those not into poetry, Bishop's exploration of travel and natural motifs, in relation to her own internal struggle, are worth reading.
An example:
"Think of the long trip home.
Should we have stayed at home and thought of here?
Where shou
Kirsten Kinnell

one of my favorites:


This celestial seascape, with white herons got up as angels,
flying high as they want and as far as they want sidewise
in tiers and tiers of immaculate reflections;
the whole region, from the highest heron
down to the weightless mangrove island
with bright green leaves edged neatly with bird-droppings
like illumination in silver,
and down to the suggestively Gothic arches of the mangrove roots
and the beautiful pea-green back-pasture
where occasionally a fish jumps
It's becoming more and more difficult for me to "rate" books of poetry, particularly collected and selected volumes. I really liked all of Elizabeth Bishop's work, at least all of it that I'd read here and there before tackling this book, and I don't like it any less now that I've read all of it. But I'm vastly more fond of her later work, particularly the "Elsewhere" half of Questions of Travel and the masterpiece that is Geography III. The earlier stuff doesn't grab me, for the most part, alth ...more
Elizabeth Bishop changed my view of poetry. I knew I liked the stuff, but I had never read anyone who made the writing of such complicated verses seem so easy. Her poems are facile on some levels, and yet the form she employs don't seem to constrain her--a feat which is impossible for all but a few. I read much of this anthology in my senior seminar as an English major in college, along with Emily Dickenson and Marianne Moore. Elizabeth was by far my favorite. She's a modern woman poet, with a l ...more
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Poetry: Elizabeth Bishop 4 9 Jan 07, 2013 09:49AM  
  • Complete Poems
  • My Alexandria
  • Above the River: The Complete Poems
  • The Collected Poems
  • The Wild Iris
  • Self-Portrait in a Convex Mirror
  • The Dream Songs: Poems
  • The Collected Poems
  • The Collected Poems of Frank O'Hara
  • Life Studies and For the Union Dead
  • The Fact of a Doorframe: Poems Selected and New, 1950-1984
  • Neon Vernacular: New and Selected Poems
  • The Complete Poems
  • Song
  • The Country Between Us
  • The Dream of the Unified Field: Selected Poems, 1974-1994
  • Elegy
  • Collected Poems, 1912-1944
Librarian Note: There is more than one author in the GoodReads database with this name. See this thread for more information.

Elizabeth Bishop was an American poet and writer from Worcester, Massachusetts. She was the Poet Laureate of the United States from 1949 to 1950, a Pulitzer Prize winner in 1956. and a National Book Award Winner for Poetry in 1970. She is considered one of the most importa
More about Elizabeth Bishop...
Geography III One Art The Collected Prose Elizabeth Bishop: Poems, Prose, and Letters Words in Air: The Complete Correspondence Between Elizabeth Bishop and Robert Lowell

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“The art of losing isn't hard to master;
so many things seemed filled with the intent
to be lost that their loss is no disaster”
“Time to plant tears, says the almanac.
The grandmother sings to the marvelous stove
and the child draws another inscrutable house.”
More quotes…