Roosters Essay

1119 words - 5 pages

Poets throughout history have created countless works that are intended to stimulate and spark emotion from their readers. One poet in particular that has mastered this skill was Elizabeth Bishop. Born February 8th 1911 in Worcester, Massachusetts, Bishop is a well-known, world-renowned poet whose works facilitated her growing national fame. She grew up in New England, and moved to Nova Scotia, Canada shortly after her father passed away and her mother remarried (Bloom 1985). In the fall of 1930, Bishop attended Vassar College in Poughkeepsie, New York after completing her basic education (Bloom 1985). Despite being a major American poet, Bishop seldom released publications. In 1946, twelve years after graduating with her bachelor’s degree in English literature, Bishop decided to pursue her literary career releasing her first publication, North and South which won the Houghton Mifflin Prize for poetry (Miller 1993). Due to its overwhelming popularity and success she decided to edit and re-release in 1955 as Poems: North and South—A Cold Spring, with an additional 18 poems that constituted the “Cold Spring” section (Miller 1993). With the new makeover of the book, her popularity skyrocketed, winning Bishop the Nobel Prize for Poetry in 1956 (Miller 1993)
Bishop, like many other authors before her focused on writing about her thoughts and feelings. Questions of Travel (1965) focused on her sights and scenery and her feelings during her time living in Brazil. Brazil (1967) was a travel book of poems that consisted about the different surroundings of this country. An Anthology of 20th Century Brazilian Poetry (1972) is exactly what it sounds like, Brazilian Poetry. Geography III (1976), her last publication, earned her the National Book Critics Circle Award (Miller 1993). Three years later she died from a cerebral aneurysm in Boston on October 6th, 1979 (Bloom 1985). Due to her popularity as an author and her vast amount of followers, Bishop’s poems have survived over thirty years after her death. There are countless poems of Bishop that have an underlying meaning, but “Roosters” from North and South is one in particular. At first, “Roosters” comes off as a simple allegory about military invasion in a small town but beneath the surface it is much more than that; as it is a poem of power and uncertainty. Since the poem acknowledges contemporary politics and Christian morality, it is typically viewed as something of an anomaly when compared to her other oeuvres. Bishop strived to be different so she often shied away from the characteristics and didacticism of “tract poetry” which she stated she did not care for in an interview (Bloom 1985). She moves from visualizing despair to envisioning hope, evoking that a rooster is not a symbol of militarism but one of repentance and forgiveness.
Bishop splits the poem into three parts with the first section describing the awakening of the small town by the “uncontrolled, traditional cries” (line 21) of...

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