Language In Elizabeth Bishop's Poetry

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While studying Elizabeth Bishop's poetry, it was remarkably clear that Bishop's carefully judged use of language aids the reader to uncover the intensity of feeling in her poetry. In the several poems which I studied, we can see how Bishop used language, persona, symbolism and imagery to her advantage. We can see the emotions through a mix of language types and techniques used within her poetry.

At a first glance, Bishop's poetry seems to lack any sort of emotion, it is dull and bland. In the poem 'The Armadillo' Bishop simply describes the carnival in Rio in which 'frail, illegal fire balloons' are a tradition. She sets a peaceful atmosphere, a sky that is filled with lights 'that comes and goes, like hearts.'' Later these fire lanterns transform into 'stars' in the night sky. This aesthetic setting suddenly takes a dangerous turn.
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In the poem 'First Death in Nova Scotia' a young child is the medium of Bishop's message. The child's innocence enhances the cold hard truth of death and the non existent after life. The structure of the poem follows the confused child as she tries to make sense of the reality of death. The child’s mind works by association. She repeats ideas and makes unusual connections between things,' They invited Arthur to be the smallest page at court’ Arthur will presumably join the King and Queen in their kingdom. However the last four lines of the stanza portray the child’s fears that Arthur won’t be able to leave his coffin and enter this world. The child tries to empathise with Arthur’s feelings. We are left with a tragic image of a young boy, vulnerable and afraid, surrounded by the dead. ‘But how could Arthur go, clutching his tiny lily, with his eyes shut up so tight and the roads deep in snow?’ Her hope of Arthur going to heaven suddenly diminishes into dust. Strong feeling of sadness can be felt as the child realises the harsh truth about life and it's
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