Words Polished to a High Sheen
Elizabeth Bishop is not the most prolific writer, and though she often complained about this to her literary friends, she just couldn't allow a poem to go unpolished. And polished again. Bishop was a perfectionist, and she would work and rework her poems until they were just right. It wasn't uncommon for her to develop an intense dislike for one of her pieces because she felt that it just wasn't up to her usual standards. In some cases, she spent up to twenty years tweaking and revising a single poem. It's difficult to find better words to replace those in a Bishop poem, and because of this we get a sense of true meaning behind each and every choice she makes. By being so meticulous, she can build up multiple layers of meaning, which creates poems that become more and more powerful each time they are read.