Elizabeth Bishop: Poem Analysis

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Elizabeth Bishop proposed that “[i]f you’re in the right frame of mind, everything strikes you as poetry” (Conversations with Elizabeth Bishop 13). Bishop’s first collection, North & South, already demonstrates the finesse and themes of her later work. “Paris, 7a.m.” exemplifies Bishop’s mode of poetic process in that the poem very much reflects Bishop’s thought progression. Bishop gives the poem a specific geographic location in order to further contextualize her reflections. In her poem, Bishop acknowledges that time and change move forward consistently and severely. Perspective for Bishop is the key to seeing which helps the reader understand the shifting perspectives within the poem. Throughout the poem, “Paris, 7a.m.,” Bishop explores the themes of travel and home within geography and time to find one’s place within space and time. In the first stanza, the speaker walks around the apartment looking at all the clocks. The speaker understands time through different points of view such as The troubled observer, “I,” wanders the isolated inside of the apartment looking outside: “Look down into the courtyard” (CP 26). This …show more content…
The clocks of the beginning of the poem recur at the end, “I make a trip to each clock in the apartment” and then later the speaker asks the question, “Can the clocks say?” (CP 26). In focusing upon a human construct to keep track of time, the repetition suggests the human effort to control time and therefore change. “I make a trip to each clock in the apartment / some hands point histrionically one way/ and some point others, from the ignorant faces. / Time is an Etoile; the hours diverge” “Paris, 7a.m.” captures a specific moment in time in order to seemingly stop time. In trying to examine time, Bishop tries to slow down time in order to analyze and reflect. Human endeavors naturally operate as a race against time which Bishop tries to contemplate in “Paris,

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