“many-slanted, many-shingled planes”

Thomas Travisano wrote in The Gettysburg Review of Winter 1992:

“One could argue that Elizabeth Bishop’s most versatile and prolific period as a publishing writer spanned the academic years 1927–1930, when, aged sixteen to nineteen, she attended Walnut Hill School in Natick, Massachusetts, and wrote for The Blue Pencil, the school’s literary magazine. Late in life, Bishop would fret privately over how little she had published compared to prolific friends and fellow poets such as Robert Lowell, Randall Jarrell, and James Merrill. But as a boarding school student she wrote frequently and skillfully in a variety of forms, including some, such as the review and play, to which she seldom or never returned. Much of Bishop’s best prose went into long and frequent letters or lively notebook observations—and thus never saw print. Indeed, her published work is merely the most finished portion of a vast and engaging body of writing, most of it prose…”

From: Elizabeth Bishop – A Miracle for Breakfast (2017), by Megan Marshall:

“At Walnut Hill she grew strong enough to write an essay, “On Being Alone,” admitting to a “fear of all those innumerable quiet hours alone that are ahead of all of us,” but proposing that in solitude “the mind can do what it wants to”: “find the islands of the Imagination” and befriend “the companion in ourselves who is with us all our lives…the rare person whose heart quickens when a bird climbs high and alone in the clear air.” The self “inside looking out” that she’d discovered since that dizzying day in the dentist’s waiting room in Worcester could experience joy as well as suffering. The girl who had once dangled by her hair at the mercy of her brutish uncle could write now about “Roof-Tops,” as Elizabeth titled another Blue Pencil essay – the “many-slanted, many-shingled planes” we have “longed to rise up” and “heave” off, leaving “open every building to the blue sky and the wind.””

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: