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North and South

4.13  ·  Rating details ·  194 ratings  ·  26 reviews
54 pages
Published 1946 by Houghton Mifflin
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Average rating 4.13  · 
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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.
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. For
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.
Oct 26, 2019 rated it liked it
Precise observations. Concrete settings (eg. chilly northern coasts, tropical southern mangroves). Top tips: Paris, Fish.
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"
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
May 01, 2019 rated it it was ok
Personal favorites: The Weed, Sleeping on the Ceiling ("we must go under the wallpaper / to meet the insect-gladiator"), Roosters ("the many wives / who lead hens' lives / of being courted and despised"), Little Exercise (storm as "badly lit battle-scenes") The Fish (all of it).
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.
Jun 13, 2019 added it
first time reading E Bishop
Shelby Lynne
Feb 23, 2020 rated it liked it
Not really my cup of tea when it comes to poetry, but god, I love "The Fish" though.
Mar 25, 2020 rated it really liked it
Beautiful early writing. In particular, I enjoyed "Sleeping Standing Up", "The Weed", and "Roosters".
May 24, 2020 rated it did not like it
Boring...😖 The only two one i like: Sleeping on the ceiling. The fish
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.
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
May 15, 2020 rated it really liked it
Shelves: poultry, repoesy
2020 Personal Pandemic Project: making poems from words and phrases repeated in the poetry collections i own or can easily acquire.
North & South yielded the following...


waiting for coffee
    crying long
        and round

        that rainbow

    circles and turns

    see it

instantly mortal endless
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
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: ...more
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."
Danusia K Hubah
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Aug 04, 2015
Claudia Tonaco
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Dec 03, 2013
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Jul 15, 2012
Paul Davis
rated it it was ok
Nov 22, 2017
Eason Lau
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Jul 14, 2015
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Dec 12, 2012
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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

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“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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