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North and South

4.20  ·  Rating details ·  228 ratings  ·  30 reviews
54 pages
Published 1946 by Houghton Mifflin
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4.20  · 
Rating details
 ·  228 ratings  ·  30 reviews

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Jun 02, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
The 1955 volume POEMS reissued Elizabeth Bishop's debut collection North and South, but it also contained an entirely new collection titled A Cold Spring. One of the best places to get this material is the Library of America volume (ISBN 1598530178) that contains Bishop's complete poems and prose with a choice of letters, but I have found it interesting to slowly examine Bishop's collections on their own.

North and South was published in 1946, but of the poems predate the war (or at least America
Will McGrath
Apr 03, 2017 rated it really liked it
I don't know enough about reading poetry to weigh in with an educated opinion. I can say that I found a number of the pieces in this collection captivating, and others less so. I'll be interested to see how "North & South" (her debut collection, from 1946) compares with her final collection, "Geography III", which won the 1977 National Book Critics Circle Award (and which I plan to read in a few weeks).

I did find reading Bishop before sitting down to my own projects to be a useful practice.
Chris  - Quarter Press Editor
Mar 29, 2015 rated it it was amazing
There's a reason Bishop is a modern classic. Her writing is so obscure and precise and full of wonderful images that resonate and linger. To me, this is what I want from poetry.

Granted, yes, some of her rhyme schemes feel a bit dated--if not outright forced--so those can make for some awkward reads. Overall, though, I love Bishop's language and will most definitely be reading more of her work down the road.
Courtney Johnston
Apr 24, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: borrowed, poetry
I fell for Elizabeth Bishop on the first page of this double-collection.

The Map

Land lies in water; it is shadowed green.
Shadows, or are they shallows, at its edges
showing the line of long sea-weeded ledges
where weeds hang to the simple blue from green.
Or does the land lean down to lift the sea from under,
drawing it unperturbed around itself?
Along the fine tan sandy shelf
is the land tugging at the sea from under?

The shadow of Newfoundland lies flat and still.
Labrador's yellow, where the moony Esk
Paul Schmitt
Aug 28, 2018 rated it liked it
"The Map," "The Imaginary Iceberg," "Large Bad Picture," "From the Country to the City," "The Man-Moth," "The Weed," "The Monument," "The Fish"
Justin Evans
About half of these were really good; about half were eye-rolling. Honestly, you can only use the word 'marl' so many times before it becomes precious. I think it might be once, too. Basically, when something actually happens and she feels free to comment on that happening, the poems are great; when nothing happens and she's just describing it's sleep inducing. For me anyway; I'm pretty uninterested in poetic descriptions of nature. I guess people fall madly in love with her travel poems, so may ...more
Jan 25, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Adult and child
sink to their rest.
At sea the big ship sinks and dies,
lead in its breast.

Let nations rage,
let nations fall.
The shadow of the crib makes an enormous cage
upon the wall.

Sleep on and on,
war’s over soon.
Drop the silly, harmless toy,
pick up the moon.

If they should say
you have no sense,
don’t you mind them; it won’t make
much difference.

Adult and child
sink to their rest.
At sea the big ship sinks and dies,
lead in its breast.
Jul 02, 2016 rated it liked it
Shelves: reviewed
This is a nice set of poems. A number of them deal with geographic features: maps, weeds, an iceberg, a seascape. Some discuss places such as Paris and Florida. I do not have a wide knowledge of poetry, but while Ginsberg is often in-your-face with graphic sex, and Merrill goes deep into, for example, emotional pain, Elizabeth Bishop (in this collection) feels simply light and rather pleasant. This is comfort poetry for bedtime reading. I liked this collection, hence my three star rating, and wi ...more
Jun 08, 2015 rated it it was amazing
I love her work. I love form and well-done rhyme. She's insightful, playful and witty. Wordsmith - page and ink as metal and fire.
My favorite poem in this collection is "The Man-Moth," which combines Bishop's characteristic exactness of perception with a floridly imaginative surrealism that is rather unusual for her.
Jan 11, 2018 rated it it was amazing
i love Elizabeth bishop and I thought it'd be fun to read her collections at my own pace. I have the collected poems and I just finished reading and reviewing all of North and South, her first published volume. it's so excellent; I love her work. fuck yeah!
Sinclair von Sinclair
Dec 11, 2018 rated it did not like it
This collection is shocking for its almost total lack of musicality. Every poem here seems to trample on itself. The quality of the later collections is astonishing in comparison. The plodding and obvious turns-of-phrase that Bishop was never truly able to shake off are in abundance here.
Aug 08, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I can't speak/write cogently on Bishop's poetry per se, so some thoughts.

Last week i listened to recordings of her readings. Yesterday, yet again, i noticed that my reading mind has different favorite bits than my listening mind's. Rhyme is more apparent when reading, as if it were visual. I experience rhythm and meter better while listening, though

While reading poetry these last couple weeks i also noticed that choice images or words send me wandering through memories more so than novels and n
Mar 11, 2012 rated it really liked it
North and South was the first collection by the American poet Elizabeth Bishop. Though published in 1946, all the material predates the war (or at least American involvement in it) and reflect Bishop's development as a poet through the 1930s and very early 1940s. Of course, the best place to get this material is in the Library of America that contains Bishop's complete poems and prose with a choice of letters, but it's interesting to examine this collection on its own.

From the very first poem, "
Hooper Bring
Had two poems I liked a lot and the rest were fine to me. But mostly I was eager to be done with it.
Aug 22, 2011 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: pomes
I had no desire to read Elizabeth Bishop before, I think because, while "One Art" is obviously a tight poem, I was never bowled over by it. (I've never typed out "bowled over" before. It doesn't look right.) Then I read an article on The Millions about her and it quoted some irresistibly good poetry. So I took this book out of the library. Not only does it have a kick-ass cover design (this is the original printing), but the poems are so good. Not just well-written, but filled with goodness. May ...more
Debby Dietrich
This book showed up on a list of 25 books to read before you die. I was an English major in college and am a lover of poetry. I love April because it is poetry month and I put poetry books out for display at the library, using this as an opportunity to revisit poems that have become old friends. So I was surprised that I don't remember ever being exposed to the poetry of Elizabeth Bishop in high school or college. She was certainly a noted poet by then, dying within the decade after my college g ...more
Annette Boehm
Jan 21, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: poetry
Bishop's first collection, published in 1946, contains many interesting poems. The pages swarm with birds, fish, reptiles; there is even a man-moth. The poems are varied enough in theme and style to keep a reader interested through the volume, and it's nice and short, too. As poetry volumes often are. :) My favorite poems in this one are "The Monument", "The Fish", "The Gentleman of Shalott", and "The Man-Moth". Bishop likes to play with language, her images are captivating, acute observations. ...more
Oct 28, 2015 rated it it was amazing
My insides kept lurching throughout; it's so good I'm physically affected. A lot of the poems take me multiple reads to 'get', because Bishop's placement and selection of words is so economical and sinewy.

Form is a crystalline sort of beauty that refracts, splinters, and magnifies the content. You can read a poem for the meaning, for the emotion, for the technical achievements. Your mind focuses on the rhymes or line breaks and that alters your perception of the language in interesting ways. Bi
Cooper Renner
Jun 26, 2009 rated it really liked it
I have not been a particular fan of Bishop (though long ago I often used "The Fish," which I rather liked, with high school classes), but decided to pick this volume up when I found it at Booked Up in Archer City, Texas. It was not impressing me until about halfway through, when I hit "Sleeping on the Ceiling," a very clever poem which compares Paris (perhaps before World War Two?) to a neglected room, and suddenly either the poems got better or my outlook and Bishop's began to overlap. I found ...more
Michael Arnold
May 25, 2016 rated it really liked it
Shelves: poetry
I'm fast becoming a big fan of Elizabeth Bishop. She's absolutely fantastic, and very much between two worlds (a major theme in her poetry) between a hardworking, Robert Frost Canada and New England, and a working, sweaty, thick-with-humidity Florida. The poetry is mature in the sense that that it does not aim for transcendence (unlike Frost, and that both is and is not a criticism of both Frost and Bishop) but instead it is about conflicts of identity, location, while living and exiting in a wo ...more
Chris  - Quarter Press Editor
This is simply for A COLD SPRING, as I've already read / reviewed NORTH & SOUTH.

Once again, Bishop is wonderful. Honestly, I didn't connect with these poems as much as I did with N&S, but her imagery... holy crap, her imagery... is some of the best around. Her poems are lovely, a wonderful batch of words to swish and roll across your tongue, head, and heart.

For folks like me that are still dabbling in the poetry realm, I think Bishop is one of the best possible introductions a person cou
Dec 15, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: poetry
"I looked into his eyes
which were far larger than mine
but shallower, and yellowed,
the irises backed and packed
with tarnished tinfoil
seen through the lenses
of old scratched isinglass.
They shifted a little, but not
to return my stare.
—It was more like the tipping
of an object toward the light."
Dec 18, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2012
Rating for A Cold Spring (though North and South got the same rating). I feel like A Cold Spring is slightly better than North and South - though only just. Half a star difference in rating. Brilliant poetry in both collections, but A Cold Spring seems more mature and consise than does North and South.
Aug 07, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Elizabeth Bishop sculpts language into lean, elegant images, images that speak to the spirit. I read these poems while vacationing by the sea during a full moon week. Cold Spring is hauntingly beautiful . . . enough said!
Oct 26, 2016 rated it liked it
Shelves: 20th-century, poetry
I mostly failed this collection as a reader. But not "The Fish." I love that poem, and if you read one poem this year about catching a fish (as I assume you will), you should make it that one. You can find it here:
Jun 10, 2014 rated it liked it
Shelves: classic
From "Songs for a Colored Singer:"

"Fruit or flower? It is a face.
Yes, a face.
In that dark and dreary place
each seed grows into a face."
Sep 07, 2012 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
With respect to Ms. Bishop, I get why critics see her as somewhat minor. The ideas are narrower in scope and the form is banal, but the execution is often lovely. Imagistic, descriptive.
Danusia K Hubah
rated it it was amazing
Aug 04, 2015
rated it it was amazing
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  • New Hampshire
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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
“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.”
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