Thursday, March 03, 2022

Private things in Elizabeth Bishop's "One Art" and Sumita Chakraborty's "Quiver"

Elizabeth Bishop's "One Art" offers a list of ever more serious lost things: door keys, an hour, places, names, destinations, "my mother's watch", "three loved houses", "two cities", "two rivers", "a continent", and finally "you". But no explanation is offered of how these things were lost or what they meant to the speaker. Sumita Chakraborty's "Quiver" also presents a unexplained list of lost things: "Each lover. Three dogs. Rose bushes. / My mother, my sister, my home state. / An underground bees’ nest. One upright black Kawai piano." The private meaning of the poems' lost items remains private even as they become public images that can be taken figuratively or symbolically. (Andrew Shields, #111words, 3 March 2022)

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