Gabrielle Bellot is a staff writer for Literary Hub. Her work has also appeared in The New Yorker, The New York Times, The Atlantic, Guernica, Slate, and Tin House, among other publications. She is a board member of VIDA: Women in the Literary Arts. (September 2018)

Follow Gabrielle Bellot on Twitter: @GabbyBellot.

NYR DAILY

Alone with Elizabeth Bishop

Rio de Janeiro, 1955; where the poet Elizabeth Bishop moved in 1951, and would live for nearly two decades

“When you write my epitaph,” Elizabeth Bishop famously told the poet Robert Lowell in 1974, “you must say I was the loneliest person who ever lived.” But being lonely and being alone are not the same, and Bishop recognized from a young age that there was something special, even salvific, about the latter. “There is a peculiar quality about being alone, an atmosphere that no sounds or persons can ever give,” she wrote in her 1929 essay, “… in being alone, the mind finds its Sea, the wide, quiet plane with different lights in the sky and different, more secret sounds.” I understood this sentiment well, the special beauty of the blue hours when you are, by choice, alone, and the candle of your self burns in a way it never quite can when you are with someone else.