Elizabeth Bishop’s “In the Waiting Room”, and Louis MacNeice’s “Sunday Morning” follow a similar temporal structure as they begin with a normal passing of time, feature a hiatus or stretch of time in the central part of the poem, and then end with a return to normalcy. In addition, both poems include a connection among strangers during this stretched time period. However, Bishop’s speaker finds this connection frightening, due to her resulting loss of identity. In contrast, MacNeice portrays this connection as positive, as all of humanity shares in a peaceful, joyous morning. This difference originates in the cause of the hiatus in each poem: for Bishop’s speaker, a confusion of identity prompts this temporal shift, while in MacNeice’s poem, a universal connection between strangers allows for a stretching of time.
Awarded the 2016 Poetry and Poetics Prize
Kuper, Emma M.
"When Time Stops: A Loss of Identity or a Lack of Responsibility?,"
The Criterion: Vol. 2018
, Article 4.
Available at: https://crossworks.holycross.edu/criterion/vol2018/iss1/4