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Elizabeth Bishop quotes Showing 1-30 of 67

“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”
Elizabeth Bishop, The Complete Poems 1927-1979
“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 art of losing isn't hard to master.

I lost two cities, lovely ones. And, vaster,
some realms I owned, two rivers, a continent.
I miss them, but it wasn't a disaster.

---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, One Art
“If after I read a poem the world looks like that poem for 24 hours or so I'm sure it's a good one—and the same goes for paintings. ”
Elizabeth Bishop
“Close, close all night
the lovers keep.
They turn together
in their sleep,

Close as two pages
in a book
that read each other
in the dark.

Each knows all
the other knows,
learned by heart
from head to toes.”
Elizabeth Bishop, Edgar Allan Poe & The Juke-Box: Uncollected Poems, Drafts, and Fragments
“all my life i have lived and behaved very much like the sandpiper just running down the edges of different countries and continents, looking for something.”
Elizabeth Bishop
“ I am in need of music that would flow
Over my fretful, feeling finger-tips,
Over my bitter-tainted, trembling lips,
With melody, deep, clear, and liquid-slow.
Oh, for the healing swaying, old and low,
Of some song sung to rest the tired dead,
A song to fall like water on my head,
And over quivering limbs, dream flushed to glow!

There is a magic made by melody:
A spell of rest, and quiet breath, and cool
Heart, that sinks through fading colors deep
To the subaqueous stillness of the sea,
And floats forever in a moon-green pool,
Held in the arms of rhythm and of sleep. ”
Elizabeth Bishop
“Oh, must we dream our dreams
and have them, too?”
Elizabeth Bishop, Questions of Travel
“I was made at right angles to the world
and I see it so. I can only see it so.”
Elizabeth Bishop, Elizabeth Bishop: Poems, Prose, and Letters
“Open the book. (The gilt rubs off the edges of the pages and pollinates the fingertips.)”
Elizabeth Bishop
“Think of the long trip home.
Should we have stayed at home and thought of here?
Where should we be today?
Is it right to be watching strangers in a play
in this strangest of theatres?
What childishness is it that while there's a breath of life
in our bodies, we are determined to rush
to see the sun the other way around?
The tiniest green hummingbird in the world?
To stare at some inexplicable old stonework,
inexplicable and impenetrable,
at any view,
instantly seen and always, always delightful?
Oh, must we dream our dreams
and have them, too?
And have we room
for one more folded sunset, still quite warm?”
Elizabeth Bishop, Questions of Travel
“Insomnia"


perhaps she's a daytime sleeper.”
Elizabeth Bishop
“Hoping to live days of greater happiness, I forget that days of less happiness are passing by.”
Elizabeth Bishop
“Think of the long trip home. Should we have stayed home and thought of here? Where should we be today?”
Elizabeth Bishop
“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 cobweb
and drop it down the well

into that world inverted
where left is always right,
where the shadows are really the body,
where we stay awake all night,
where the heavens are shallow as the sea
is now deep, and you love me.”
Elizabeth Bishop
“Time to plant tears, says the almanac.
The grandmother sings to the marvelous stove
and the child draws another inscrutable house.”
Elizabeth Bishop, The Complete Poems 1927-1979
“I have seen it over and over, the same sea, the same,
slightly, indifferently swinging above the stones,
icily free above the stones,
above the stones and then the world.
If you should dip your hand in,
your wrist would ache immediately,
your bones would begin to ache and your hand would burn
as if the water were a transmutation of fire
that feeds on stones and burns with a dark gray flame.
If you tasted it, it would first taste bitter,
then briny, then surely burn your tongue.
It is like what we imagine knowledge to be:
dark, salt, clear, moving, utterly free,
drawn form the cold hard mouth
of the world, derived from the rocky breasts
forever, flowing and drawn, and since
our knowledge is historical, flowing, and flown.”
Elizabeth Bishop, North and South
“But he sleeps on the top of his mast
with his eyes closed tight.
The gull inquired into his dream,
which was, "I must not fall.
The spangled sea below wants me to fall.
It is hard as diamonds; it wants to destroy us all.”
Elizabeth Bishop
“Why shouldn't we, so generally addicted to the gigantic, at last have some small works of art, some short poems, short pieces of music [...], some intimate, low-voiced, and delicate things in our mostly huge and roaring, glaring world?”
Elizabeth Bishop
“The art of losing isn't hard to master.”
Elizabeth Bishop
“The armored cars of dreams, contrived to let us do so many a dangerous thing.”
Elizabeth Bishop
“Being a poet is one of the unhealthier jobs--no regular hours, so many temptations!”
Elizabeth Bishop
“One shouldn't get too involved with people who can't possibly understand one”
Elizabeth Bishop, Words in Air: The Complete Correspondence Between Elizabeth Bishop and Robert Lowell
“All the untidy activity continues,
awful but cheerful.”
Elizabeth Bishop
“Dreams were the worst. Of course I dreamed of food
and love, but they were pleasant rather
than otherwise. But then I'd dream of things
like slitting a baby's throat, mistaking it
for a baby goat. I'd have
nightmares of other islands
stretching away from mine, infinities
of islands, islands spawning islands,
like frogs' eggs turning into polliwogs
of islands, knowing that I had to live
on each and every one, eventually,
for ages, registering their flora,
their fauna, their geography.”
Elizabeth Bishop, Geography III
“I knew that nothing stranger
had ever happened, that nothing
stranger could ever happen.”
Elizabeth Bishop
“...what the Man-Moth fears most he must do..”
Elizabeth Bishop
tags: poetry
“Is it right to be watching strangers in a play / in this strangest of theatres? / What childishness is it that while there's a breath of life / in our bodies, we are determined to rush / to see the sun the other way around? ”
Elizabeth Bishop
“Each night he must
be carried through artificial tunnels and dream recurrent dreams.
Just as the ties recur beneath his train, these underlie
his rushing brain. He does not dare look out the window,
for the third rail, the unbroken draught of poison,
runs there beside him. He regards it as a disease
he has inherited the susceptibility to. He has to keep
his hands in his pockets, as others must wear mufflers.”
Elizabeth Bishop, The Complete Poems 1927-1979
“But they made me realize more than I ever had the rarity of true originality, and also the sort of alienation it might involve.”
Elizabeth Bishop
“Icebergs behoove the soul (both being self-made from elements least visible) to see themselves: fleshed, fair, erected, indivisible.”
Elizabeth Bishop

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