Elizabeth Bishop and Geography III

There is an American library in Nancy with a sizable poetry collection I've just discovered. Yesterday, I grabbed Elizabeth Bishop's collected poems which contains arguably her best-known work in the book Geography III.

A slim volume by itself at 50 pages, in the collected poems it takes up even less space and can be read through easily in one sitting. Bishop's style in Geography III is plain, precise, and at times whimsical. Recalling the past in poems like "The Waiting Room," she is not overly personal but instead "focuse[s] her precise and carefully crafted lines on subtle impressions of the physical world" (poets.org). The focus on that world through the pages of National Geographic at age seven seems to have had a profound effect on Bishop (of course using the assumption of speaker-as-poet in this case), and taking a moment to click here and read this narrative poem is well worth your time.

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