Elizabeth Bishop’s Poem The Weed

Literature / April 23, 2015 / No Comments /
Examines Elizabeth Bishop’s poem `The Weed` through a psychoanalyst’s perspective.

This paper reviews Elizabeth Bishop’s poem `The Weed` and explores how it demonstrates her longing for parental figures in childhood, their absence, and the effect it has on her and will have on her children. The paper demonstrates how through a fusion of signifiers, scenes, and symbols, we look into the past with the speaker and witness a child’s attempt to deal with approaching maturity without the proper tools.
For instance, there are two different selves. There is the narrator, who represents the conscious part of Bishop’s psyche. She introduces herself not only as dead but meditating, which gives her a mind for us to ponder (and adds to the surrealist qualities of the poem). The grave in which she feels dead may signify how she felt as a child and consequently felt as an adult about her mother: an unwelcoming womb is an echo of an unreceptive mind and cold heart. Nevertheless, the cold heart and its daughter remained unchanged together / for a year, a minute, an hour (7-8), perhaps illustrating some lingering hope of Bishop’s that she was at some point a facet of her mother’s intellect. The most important point this makes, however, and one that remains constant throughout the poem is that the heart and mind are synonymous.


Leave a Reply