Elizabeth Bishop

Worcester, Massachusetts


Elizabeth Bishop was born in Worcester, Massachusetts on February 8, 1911. Bishop's father died when she was only 8 months old and his death caused her mother to become very mentally ill and she was institutionalized. Elizabeth and her mother never saw each other again after that. Elizabeth Bishop was an orphan and had to go live with her grandparents in Great Village, Nova Scotia. She went to very little schools as she was always very ill as a child. When she applied for college, she majored in music, but later couldn't get over her fear of performing and changed her major to English. Elizabeth Bishop died from an aneurysm on October 6, 1979.

Elizabeth Bishop was greatly influenced by the poet Marianne Moor. Moor led Bishop to begin writing poetry, and even helped her along the way. Bishop wrote about a variety of topics, almost everything, even about the catching of a fish in scrutinizing detail. She has won many awards for her writing such as the National Book Award in 1970 and the Neustadt International Prize for Literature in 1976.


The moon in the bureau mirror
looks out a million miles
(and perhaps with pride, at herself,
but she never, never smiles)
far and away beyond sleep, or
perhaps she's a daytime sleeper.

By the Universe deserted,
she'd tell it to go to hell,
and she'd find a body of water,
or a mirror, on which to dwell.
So wrap up care in a cobweb
and drop it down the well

into that world inverted
where left is always right,
where the shadows are really the body,
where we stay awake all night,
where the heavens are shallow as the sea
is now deep, and you love me.