The Bight - Elizabth Bishop

Kate O'Reilly
Note by Kate O'Reilly, updated more than 1 year ago
Kate O'Reilly
Created by Kate O'Reilly over 5 years ago
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Note on The Bight - Elizabth Bishop, created by Kate O'Reilly on 11/15/2015.

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Page 1

The Bight(On my birthday)At low tide like this how sheer the water is.White, crumbling ribs of marl protrude and glareand the boats are dry, the pilings dry as matches.Absorbing, rather than being absorbed,the water in the bight doesn't wet anything,the color of the gas flame turned as low as possible.One can smell it turning to gas; if one were Baudelaireone could probably hear it turning to marimba music.The little ocher dredge at work off the end of the dockalready plays the dry perfectly off-beat claves.The birds are outsize. Pelicans crashinto this peculiar gas unnecessarily hard,it seems to me, like pickaxes,rarely coming up with anything to show for it,and going off with humorous elbowings.Black-and-white man-of-war birds soaron impalpable draftsand open their tails like scissors on the curvesor tense them like wishbones, till they tremble.The frowsy sponge boats keep coming inwith the obliging air of retrievers,bristling with jackstraw gaffs and hooksand decorated with bobbles of sponges.There is a fence of chicken wire along the dockwhere, glinting like little plowshares,the blue-gray shark tails are hung up to dryfor the Chinese-restaurant trade.Some of the little white boats are still piled upagainst each other, or lie on their sides, stove in,and not yet salvaged, if they ever will be, from the last bad storm,like torn-open, unanswered letters.The bight is littered with old correspondences.Click. Click. Goes the dredge,and brings up a dripping jawful of marl.All the untidy activity continues,awful but cheerful.

Breakdown of the PoemThe Title A metaphor for her life 37th Birthday Birthday's; time for reflection The Bight; a bay Location; Key West, Florida Background to the Poem Extremely sensual poem Vocabulary of; Bay and fishing The Bay is a metaphor for the mess in her life Personal poem; yet there is no first person pronoun used The poem shows Bishop's state of mind The poem is realistic Imagism; one image after another, like a cinema reel- poem is extremely visual, almost photographic Stanza One Simile "Absorbing" ; an unusual quaility of water, both the Bight and her are taking in everything In line 8, she makes reference to a 19th Century poet whom had a major influence on her poetry which can be clearly seen in this one. His poetry revolved around the idea that there was a connection between everything (symbolism) Lines 7,8,9 & 11: mention one of the senses, sight, smell, hear & touch "M" repition gives a rythmetical quality to the poem Line 12: is she speaking about life? is life/mankind unnecessarily difficult/challenging? Line 14; lack of achievements, her life? It is a bleek outlook on both the Bight and her life Stanza Two- Simile- Simile- The poet is looking around & she's dredging up memories- dredger in the bay is a metaphor- Lines 20 -24 are disperate imagery: this and this, constantly moving but no link or connection- Simile- "Piled up"; in a mess, like her life?- "Last bad storm"; metaphor, storm in her life.. disturbance? Mess? Confusion?- Line 31 & 32; reference to her life- "C" sound gives onometopiac feel- "Jawful"; metaphor- Lines 35 &36; refernce to her. that is her summation of life. poem ends on a note of optimism and hope

Theme of the poem Chaos of liffe Lost opportunities Reflection Tone of the poem Poignenancey Acceptance Fustration Structure of the poem36 lines of free verse

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