May 29, 2011

Elizabeth Bishop, "At the Fishouses": How Much Is Too Much?

 That's enough hot dogs for one day. Go sit down and read.  Because I said so.

At the Fishhouses by Elizabeth Bishop : The Poetry Foundation [poem]

What is Bishop's purpose in "At the Fishouses"?  Are there any words, lines, passages that aren't carrying their weight in conveying that purpose? It's not a short poem and doesn't have much white space. Does it deserve all its words? I'm not yet sure where I stand on this.

What else do you like or dislike in the poem? Or about the poem?

At the Fishhouses by Elizabeth Bishop : The Poetry Foundation [poem]


Brenda's Arizona said...

Banjo, what makes this a poem? I read it and wonder. It could be an essay, it could be a film short. It could be art, it could be a photograph, it could be life. It doesn't have to be a poem, does it?

Does the first 'stanza' carry its weight better than the others? Even the wheelbarrows are real, the Lucky Stripe gives definition. The first stanza is so descriptive...

I should have stopped there. I had the picture, the scene. I didn't want to know more. Especially how cold the water was.

Pasadena Adjacent said...


I closed my eyes and let her tell her story while I tried to visualize it. The sparkles and fish glitter was most visual along with the bluish alpine of a million trees awaiting Christmas.

Banjo52 said...

Thank you both for hanging in there for a poem that's not a skip through the daisies. I'll still hold off and wait for others to weigh in, but I surely can see how each of you got what you got.

Anonymous said...

"the benign indifference of the universe."

-K- said...

With this I can see why James Schyuler was such a fan of hers.

Banjo52 said...

Brenda, big questions again. You know I worry about "poetry" that's really prose. I'm not sure about this one, except that I had to bear down to stay tuned in--then I like a lot of it. And I too find the Luckies a singular, captivating detail.

PA, that helps a lot. The glitter and the blue-ish trees amount to a dominant impression. I plan to go back and see it that's the same for me.

AH, who is that?

K, I had a look at Schyuler a couple of years ago when Poetry Magazine had a piece on him. He's another one I don't know very well, plan to return to. My impression is that his fans are unusually loyal.

Anonymous said...

You mean if I hadn't put it in quotes, you would have given me credit for one of the great lines in lit? Damn.


Banjo52 said...

Thanks, AH. Reminds me of Stephen Crane, whom we saw not too long ago. He's has another one that's up my sleeve, even more explicit on this theme.

As for the quotation marks, I've often wondered how many kids who plagiarize get caught.

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