We went to Great Village on Nova Scotia in search of Elizabeth Bishop.
This was her home through part of her childhood. Early dislocation–or maybe a natural tendency–made her a poet obsessed with and inspired by place.
It was very moving to be there. But I also credit the visit with a desire to search for her once again in the pages of her books.
I bought, second-hand, not wanting to waste
The Complete Poems
of Elizabeth Bishop
that someone named Emily
had already marked up
in green ink
for English 310—Section 1.
I don’t think Emily
has chosen these poems herself,
they seem assigned, and she
although obviously a careful student,
Her comments further obscure:
“The negotiation between what is real
and what is real”
I used to underline too, when I was young. I even used to date lines when I finally “understood” them. It’s touching now to look back on my own obsessions.
Very glad the house has been preserved ad that the hamlet is aware of its literary heritage.