This article establishes Elizabeth Bishop’s relationship with art historian Heinrich Wölfflin through an in-depth analysis of the former’s landscape poems, “Questions of Travel,” “Cape Breton” and “The End of March.” Bishop’s poetry is shown to exercise Wölfflin’s “painterly” geometry to soften stationary shapes and enhance her language’s ability to paint her poetic environment. This study focuses on Bishop’s geometry of indeterminate lines as incomplete and unclear dimensions of vision, where their preference for diagonal motion references Wölfflin’s description of the “painterly […] depreciation of line” in baroque art. Bishop’s painterly lines of perception help to differentiate her spatial poetics from plastic tendencies. Her poems are not tangible facts, but spaces of dialogue. This article thus proposes that Bishop’s landscape poems show strategies of painterly paintings read as verse.

You do not currently have access to this content.