This article expands on Elizabeth Bishop’s affinity with the Cuban poet and critic Severo Sarduy and his neo-baroque reading of the seventeenth-century mathematician and astronomer Johannes Kepler’s planetary geometry of the imperfect circle called the ellipse and its linguistic equivalent the ellipsis (Sarduy 293). This essay will elucidate the geometrical decentering of space and the linguistic decentering of meanings as characteristics of ellipse and ellipsis through a discussion of Bishop’s poems, “In the Waiting Room,” “The Bight” and “One Art.” I argue that Bishop’s engagement with ellips(e/is) is a spatial response to the destabilization of modern urban space and the gap between language and signification, akin to T.S. Eliot’s ideas about the gap between thought and feeling in modern sensibility. Through ellips(e/is), Bishop seeks a perspective outside definitive contours and finds beauty in an incomplete and distorted embodiment of an ever-becoming truth.

You do not currently have access to this content.