|Name Morris Bishop|
|Education Cornell University|
|Died November 20, 1973, Tompkins County, New York, United States|
Books Middle Ages, Petrarch and his world, The widening stain, A medieval storybook, A Survey of French Literature
How to treat elves by morris bishop
Morris Gilbert Bishop (April 15, 1893 – November 20, 1973) was an American scholar, historian, biographer, essayist, translator, anthologist and versifier.
- How to treat elves by morris bishop
- Early life and career
- Comic poetry
- A History of Cornell
- Personal life
- Books with major contributions by Bishop
Early life and career
Bishop was born while his father, Edwin R. Bishop, a Canadian physician, was working at Willard Asylum for the Chronic Insane in the state of New York; Morris was actually born in the hospital. His mother died two years later and Morris and his elder brother Edwin were sent to live with their Canadian grandparents in Brantford, Ontario. Bishop père remarried; and while he was working in Geneva, New York, the boys were sent to live with father and stepmother. Morris was then aged eight. However, both father and stepmother died (from tuberculosis) by the time he was 11; and the brothers were sent to live with relatives in Yonkers, New York.
Bishop attended Cornell from 1910 to 1913, earning a Bachelor's and a Morrison Poetry Prize in 1913 and then a Master of Arts degree in 1914. He then sold textbooks for Ginn & Co, joined the U.S. Cavalry (during which time he unhappily served under Pershing in the "punitive expedition" in Mexico), was a first lieutenant in the U.S. Infantry in World War I, worked in a New York advertising agency, and returned to Cornell afterward to begin teaching in 1921 and to earn a Ph.D. in 1926; his thesis being on the plays of Jules Lemaître. He was associated for the whole of his adult life with Cornell University, as alumnus, Kappa Alpha Professor of Romance Literature and University Historian. Bishop wrote the preeminent history of the university, A History of Cornell.
In 1962, Bishop was presented with a festschrift, Studies in Seventeenth-Century French Literature.
Bishop was Cornell's marshal, regularly officiating at graduations. During the 1970 ceremony (when Bishop was 77), he used the university mace to fend off a graduate student who was trying to seize the microphone. "The jab was given in typical Bishop style: with spontaneity, grace and effectiveness," commented the president, Dale R. Corson.
During World War II Bishop "worked with the psychological warfare division in France".
Bishop was a visiting professor at the University of Athens in 1951 and at Wells College in 1962–63. In 1964, he was named president of the Modern Language Association.
Bishop wrote biographies of Pascal, Champlain, La Rochefoucauld, Petrarch, and St. Francis, as well as his 1928 book, A Gallery of Eccentrics, which profiled 12 unusual individuals. His 1955 Survey of French Literature was for many years a standard textbook (revised editions were published in 1965 and, posthumously, in 2005). During the late 1950s and early 1960s his reviews of books on historical topics often appeared in The New York Times. His 1968 history of the Middle Ages is still (2017) in print under the title The Middle Ages. He was a Chevalier de la Légion d'Honneur (in France), taught as a visiting professor at the University of Athens and Rice University and was president of the Modern Language Association. He was the author of many books including the pseudonymous comic mystery The Widening Stain. Bishop was a frequent contributor of historical articles to American Heritage Magazine.
Bishop's autobiography was edited by his daughter Alison Jolly as I Think I Have Been Here Before; it "includes poems and the text of many letters written by Bishop, as well as a few illustrations and photographs of Bishop and family". As of 2017, it remains unpublished.
Bishop's papers are held at Cornell University Library's Special Collections.
Bishop had a high regard for light verse:
The aim of poetry, or Heavy Verse, is to seek understanding in forms of beauty. The aim of light verse is to promote misunderstanding in beauty's cast-off clothes. But even misunderstanding is a kind of understanding; it is an analysis, an observation of truth, which sneaks around truth from the rear, which uncovers the lath and plaster of beauty's hinder parts.
Bishop's obituary in The New York Times describes him as "an extraordinarily gifted writer" of light verse, publishing "about fifteen poems and casuals a year in the New Yorker over a period of over thirty years. Bishop also published verse in Saturday Evening Post, Poetry, The Colonnade, The Measure, The Smart Set, Judge, Saturday Review of Literature and the earlier Life.
The New York Times obituary goes on to mention that Bishop was an "authority" on limericks, and a very facile composer of them.
Bishop's comic poems were collected in three volumes during his lifetime: Paramount Poems (whose title page reads " 'If it isn't a PARAMOUNT, it isn't a poem.' — Morris Bishop"), Spilt Milk and A Bowl of Bishop.
"How to Treat Elves", probably his best-known poem, describes a conversation with "The wee-est little elf." When asked what he does, the elf tells the narrator "'I dance 'n fwolic about . . . 'n scuttle about and play.'" A few stanzas describe his activities surprising butterflies, "fwightening" Mr. Mole by jumping out and saying "Boo," and swinging on cobwebs. He asks the narrator "what do you think of that?" The narrator replies:
Taking up R. C. Trevelyan's challenge (in Thamyris, or Is There a Future for Poetry?) to write on a modern subject "and dispute Virgil's supremacy in this field", Bishop produced "Gas and Hot Air". It describes the operation of a car engine; "Vacuum pulls me; and I come! I come!" cries the gasoline, which reaches
"Ozymandias Revisited" reproduces the first two stanzas of Shelley's poem verbatim, then closes:
Bennett Cerf's Houseful of Laughter (1963) included Bishop's 1950 poem "Song of the Pop-Bottlers", which starts:
Bishop also wrote a poem about special relativity, "E = mc2", which ends:
A History of Cornell
Cornell's President, Deane Malott, named Bishop the university's historian and relieved him of teaching duties for a year in order that he could produce a history in time for the university's hundredth anniversary. Bishop completed the research and writing of the highly regarded two-volume work within three or four months.
Bishop was married to the artist Alison Mason Kingsbury, who illustrated a number of his books. Their daughter, Alison Jolly, was a notable primatologist.
Bishop "[spoke] fluent German, French, Spanish, Swedish and Greek (he could also sight-read Latin)."
During the 1940s, Vladimir Nabokov's minor renown in the US was largely based on his short stories in Atlantic Monthly. Bishop was a great admirer of these, and on learning in 1947 that Nabokov was teaching at Wellesley College, invited him to apply for the recently vacated Cornell professorship of Russian literature, for which post Bishop chaired the personnel committee. Nabokov, who knew and enjoyed Bishop's verse, charmed the committee, and the Bishops and the Nabokovs "took an immediate instinctive liking to each other". While Nabokov and his wife Véra were at Cornell, "their only close companions" were the Bishops, at whose house in Cayuga Heights they frequently dined. Bishop and Nabokov would exchange limericks by mail.
Books with major contributions by Bishop
In 1928, John Barnes Wells published "The silly little fool", a composition for voice and piano accompaniment, using Bishop's "How to Treat Elves".
Emanuel Rosenberg adapted Bishop's "I love to think of things I hate", publishing it in 1944.
Warren Benson wrote A Song of Joy, for Mixed Voices with words by Bishop, publishing it in 1965. He adapted Bishop's "Song of the Pop-Bottlers" for three-part chorus, "I lately lost a preposition" for mixed chorus, and "An Englishman with an atlas; or, America the unpronounceable" for mixed chorus.
Ludwig Audrieth and G. L. Coleman adapted Bishop's "Tales of Old Cornell" for the unaccompanied choral work Tales of Old Cornell (published together with Lingering, with words by Albert W. Smith).
Edgar Newton Kierulff wrote a play, Moving day in Shakspere's England, "[a]dapted from an original piece by Morris Bishop", and published in 1964 in a small edition for friends.