Still hooked on Elizabeth Bishop

September 13, 2010

So I know our class is moving towards Beat Poetry (forgive me for being hooked on Bishop), but I just wanted to point out the uniqueness of Bishop’s poem, “12 O’Clock News.” Did anyone else love this poem? For me, this poem was captivating because it’s written in a different style than the rest. I love that on the left hand side she takes an object you would find in a newsroom (or on her desk) and dedicates each stanza to describing the simple object. For example, my favorite is the ashtray stanza.

“From our superior vantage point, we can clearly see
into a sort of dugout, possibly a shell crater, a “nest”
of soldiers. They lie heaped together, wearing the
camouflage “battle dress” intended for “winter war-
fare”. They are in hideously contorted position, all
dead. We can make out at least eight bodies. These
uniforms were designed to be used in guerilla
warfare on the country’s one snow-covered moun-
tain peak. The fact that these poor soldiers are
wearing them here, on the plain, gives further
proof, if proof were necessary, either of the childish-
ness and hopeless impracticality of this inscrutable
people, our opponents, or of the sad corruption of their

She takes these objects and makes them a metaphor for the poem. She shows her audience all of the objects and correlates how a reporter would report the war to how a poet would write a poem.

Did anyone else have any thoughts or ideas about this poem?

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