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November 12, 2007

Elizabeth Bishops-The Fish

1).Shapes like full-blown roses
stained and lost
through age.

2).Shapes like full-blown roses stained and lost through age.

3).Shapes like full-blown roses
stained and lost through age.

4).shapes like full-blown roses
stained and lost through age.

This line is particularly interesting to me and I chose to map this line because of how it initially jumped out at me after the first time I read this poem. The different ways you can map this selection can greatly alter how the poem takes shape and feels. I am partial to the way that Elizabeth Bishop has the poem structured, for the other ways don't apply as much volume, or do enough justice for what is being stated. Number four though, in particular is arranged in a very unique way. Its structure works for some of the poem, but not the entire piece. Sectioning off parts of the poem spatially can apply emphasis on certain details and really give a spotlight to certain aspects of the fish. The pauses and breaks also elicit a different way of hearing and feeling the poem and the details that follow this fish encounter. For me, I would say to keep the rhythm and images flowing, the Bishop format seems to do the poem justice in allowing one to follow the details and stay focused on each word to build upon this fish. I lose track of images when words are placed too far apart, as well as lines that are too long. For certain instances it works, but for a poem that packs in so much heat and detail, I think the quick 3-4 word long phrases make the images of the fish stick longer.

The sestina-

After reading Sestina by Bishop, I had to read it over a few times and still don't quite understand this poem. I notice the form the poem takes on is like a short story. The stanzas are always six lines long and the thought isn't always finished at the end of it. It seems like such a simple form yet to make a sestina really work, I feel like they always resemble story like ways, or like a step by step experience. An instance perhaps, here it is about the grandmother and child's interaction by the stove with the almanac, and the rain with tears. Symbols present themselves and are cyclical in a sense. I like the structure since it is quite simple, and you go about reading it as if you were to open up a novel. The spacial arrangements are what the eye usually expects so you can really focus in on what is occuring in the play by play scenario. What I think hinders the sestina is that it is so structured. There is no room for space arrangements or indentations,etc. This can hinder the poem for the fact that it may limit what can be written. For example some poems written need to have spatial arrangements to convey what is being said, whereas other poems may suit the sestina like style. How is idea served with this mapping? That question is a tough one so I'll answer it as best as I can, I feel as though the idea is very centered, and lies within the stanzas. The images aren't presented and focused on detail, but what seems to matter most is the feelings presented between the child, the grandmother, and tears. It's almost as if it is seen very one sided,told by the viewpoint of the Grandmother, does that makes sense? I may be confusing myself. My ideas about the continued purpose of such a mapping is to convey feelings or a memory. Not so much elaborated details of beauty, but an image of emotions that strike one. Subtle images of expressions and feelings intertwined with the objects presented in the scene that play off the emotions that brew.
The relationship between map form and idea form in the two different poems are different approaches but still arrive at delivering meaning of some sort. In the fish, there is constant delivery of descriptive images and detail about this fish, we are waiting the final climax of the poem in the end when the rainbow is finally reached, whereas in the sestina poem, the reader isn't hit with all these descriptive details, but rather very handpicked details that matter the most in the scene that show the emotion behind the story. Each descriptive part maps something that needs to be told or added to create the final climax of the tears the grandmother knows. These are tears she only knows, and in the fish, these are the exact images that the writer keeps close detail of. The way we can arrange the poems or remap them are in fact a huge deal in how we go about interpreting the poem. Sestina takes on a form of six lines in each stanza, this is carefully crafted to fit the details into the poem and achieve its purpose. If you were to arrange the sestina spatially, I don't think it would recreate the same idea or meaning to the reader.

WOW... after reading the cheat help, I am blown away at how difficult this poem is to write. The fact that Bishop made her sestina so good, I didn't even notice the placement of the same six words repeated throughout her stanzas. This is truly an art. I would like to try something like this, the closest I've come to writing a poem with a form that entailed specific rules to follow was the Villanelle. I enjoyed it, and I think I also posted it here somewhere. I love that line about poets refusing to write poems with form, I agree that you need to find every opportunity to do something with whatever the requirements may be. If you only look at the limitations you are surely missing out...

Posted by maxell at November 12, 2007 05:15 PM


Ooh1 --right away, I'm drawn to your comments about volume (something that interets me very much, especially the acquisition of volume and dimension/additional dimensions).

The losing track when there is a more disconnected spatial arrangement interets me also, and is a spatial understanding I didn't explore until recently, until the limited fork provided a means of using that strategy, of making that gesture necessary at times.

Anyway, the negative space that separates, the puts distance between stable elements (in this case words) of a poem may not be empty --consider that a bridge (road system bridge) is usally over something. While the person navigating the bridge is spared direct contact with what the bridge is over, the person navigating the bridge is still crossing what the bridge covers. There is usually a reason for the indirect contact with what is under the bridge, but something is under it. Depending on the length of the bridge (or form of bridge) you are tight that the connection at the other end (or ends if the bridge forks at the destination end) may not be visible, may not be apparent; there may even be places to stop along the bridge that become interim destinations.

Such a fine, fine blog by the way!

I'll be saying more about this post later.

Posted by: thyliasm at November 26, 2007 07:35 PM

Let me add this info to the radiance of the line:

The cover of "Tokyo Butter" features an image of a rose from Deirdre's coffin

(that I've kept since 2002, her death on the anniversary of my marriage, by the way. I also have rosebuds from my father's funeral: for as the first line of Galway Kinnell's print poam "Saint Francis and the Sow" states, and as the first line of my print poam "Deirdre in Kinnell's "Saint Francis and the Sow...." states: "THE BUD STANDS FOR ALL THINGS"

--because my print poam encloses Kinnell's while his print poam encloses mine, and both are enclosed by that bud);

The cover of "Tokyo Butter" has an image of a rose that I scanned with a 50x USB microscope, a rose that is now "stained and lost through age."

Posted by: thyliasm at December 1, 2007 02:07 AM

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