Robert Lowell friendship. But it also reveals a relationship returning again and again to The correspondence between Bishop and Lowell helps explain. Two of America's most revered poets, Elizabeth Bishop and Robert and Lowell became lifelong friends, perhaps lovers, in a relationship that. How the poets Elizabeth Bishop and Robert Lowell became each other's tragic Still, the books vividly dramatize the mysterious relationship.
Agony and ecstasy of Robert Lowell and Elizabeth Bishop - The Boston Globe
When the pair first met, at a literary party inBishop was almost 36, and Lowell not yet 30; both were already successful poets on the back of brilliant first collections, and the prizes and honours, the fellowships and consultancies had begun to roll in. Writing to her in from England, and a third marriage, Lowell remembered Elizabeth at that first meeting as "rather tall, long brown-haired, shy but full of design and anecdote as now," only to be corrected, a couple of weeks later: The eye for detail and the endurance of the affection go together, and it may be telling that Lowell, rather than Bishop, eventually allows himself to misremember things.
Against all of this, there was the effort of work for both poets: As personalities, the two poets are easy to contrast, with Lowell's worldliness and ambition playing against Bishop's self-effacement and reserve. In their letters, such contrasts become more matters of fact, things accepted naturally by both parties in a close relationship. Lowell is impressively candid - about his poetry, but also about himself - when he tells Bishop that "my great fault is rhetorical melodrama" and "how easy it is for me to lay it on, and mean it"; while Bishop in writing about her poetry shows an equal personal candour, when she mentions "Modesty, care, space, a sort of helplessness but determination at the same time".
Agony and ecstasy of Robert Lowell and Elizabeth Bishop
Lowell understood determination, but not helplessness; it was Bishop's genius as a poet and affliction as a woman to comprehend both. If these letters had a motto, it would be the last line of Bishop's poem "The Bight": Both terms are the poets' common currency, parts of their lovers' language, which resonates through the whole correspondence. InBishop writes to Lowell about a hairdresser, "a nice big hearty Maine girl": I was turning gray practically 'under her eyes'.
And when I'd said yes, I was an orphan, she said 'Kind of awful, ain't it, ploughing through life alone. There's no place like New England. InBishop considers her own life without ruefulness as "having a lovely time just being lonely I am so damned cheerful all the time I can't believe it. For Bishop, the awfulness and the cheerfulness in life were ways of understanding - and, occasionally, of making - works of art.
Lowell's plans seem to stalk through a different, grander element, but without her caution, and at their own peril.
InBishop wishes that "we could have a more sensible conversation about this suffering business", warning "I think it is so irresistible and unavoidable there's no use talking about it". Devotees of poetry and each other, and despite struggles with mental illness, alcoholism, love affairs, they endured through an era in which American poets were both visible, and visibly tortured. Pulitzer-winning biographer Marshall, who entered easily into the narratives of the Transcendentalist Peabody sisters and Margaret Fuller, fluently captures Bishop.
Still, despite new information from the Vassar archive, there is something that resists exposing. Peter Mitchell Elizabeth Bishop.
In a car ride from New York to Boston one evening with the young poet Adrienne Rich and in various heartbreaking unpublished drafts Marshall includes Bishop lowers her guard, reveals herself. But Bishop lived her life out of step with the movements and revolutions — poetical, political, sexual — unfolding around her.The Correspondence of Elizabeth Bishop and Robert Lowell (Full Program) - 92Y Readings
Advertisement While she faltered and apologized for various failings, it is an unwavering Bishop who fell for Lota de Macedo Soares and Alice Methfessel; trusted and competed with Lowell; adored her adopted Brazil. Get The Weekender in your inbox: The Globe's top picks for what to see and do each weekend, in Boston and beyond. Sign Up Thank you for signing up! Marshall has unearthed more, some of it stunningly intimate. One small, impossibly memorable moment occurs at a party at Lewis Wharf, where Bishop is indifferent to her student guests, more at home surrounded by various writer friends.
Her outward demeanor is, of course, in contrast to the gregarious, charismatic Lowell, from whom she was handed her Harvard teaching position.