by Elizabeth Bishop
Analysis: Calling Card
No Stone Left Unturned
Bishop isn't one to gloss over details. If you're looking for a poem to take you on a magic carpet ride, swooping for a moment over mountaintops, then quickly turning toward the coastline, you're reading the wrong poet. Bishop is a poet of patience, persistence, and immaculate detail.
She has the ability to make a specific, even seemingly uninteresting place, come to life in 30-40 lines. She does this by describing every detail, unrelentingly. If she were a painter, she'd be the master of the still life. While a picture of a bowl of fruit might sound like a snooze at first, in the hands of a skilled artist, given the proper attention to texture and light, that stationary bowl of fruit can really come to life in a riveting way. Bishop has the same skill—with words. She makes us stop and study what we might ordinarily never give a second glance.