The Farrar, Straus and Giroux Poetry Blog

April 04, 2007

"At Night the Factories Struggle Awake"

BishopI cannot believe we have waited four whole days before getting to our first Elizabeth Bishop reference. Shame! The only excuse I have for it is that this recording of Thom Gunn reading Bishop's poems 'Varick Street' and the posthumously published 'Sonnet' is remarkable. I won't do his readings any justice by describing them--no one wants to read a paragraph filled with blathering about pauses between words and lovely British accents--so it's probably best if you just click on the player below. Both were recorded at FSG's 50th anniversary party in 1996.

I couldn't find a copy of 'Varick Street' online (which is where the title of this post comes from), so I've provided a visual tool to the right. If you have, like me, been hauling The Collected Poems from apartment to apartment ever since you bought it for a 100-level course in college because you loved it too much to get rid of, you are all set. The poem is on page 179. For everyone else, you can buy the book if you prefer your poems in written form.



I love the This Old House moment, when he describes what a spirit level is...


I know! Gunn's lack of faith that anyone at a poetry reading would be able to understand what a level does is hilarious.

Philip C

Text of Bishop's Varick Street:

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