In poetry, the constraints of language and the tension between desire and possibility constitute the problematic in which the poem occurs. Approaching Elizabeth Bishop's work from the standpoint of this problematic, C.K. Doreski's illuminating study examines Bishop's rhetorical strategies and the way they shape the formal and thematic movements of her poetry and stories. Unlike other recent studies of Bishop, Doreski's does not concern itself primarily with her visual imagery, but rather deals with her poetry as a series of linguistic maneuverings designed to create the maximum illusion of representation while resisting the romantic devices of self-revelation and solipsistic narration. Though highly personal in nature, Bishop's works exhibit her success in averting, with formal and rhetorical dexterity, the temptations of sentiment. Doreski argues that Bishop takes advantage of the inadequacies of language, and with a postmodern sense of limitation explores the gaps and silences narrative must bridge with the mundane - the patently inadequate - creating an air of emotional intimacy without committing itself to the banality of full exposure. In essence, she asserts, the restraints of language shaped the tone, tensions, and even the topics of Bishop's poetry. This study finds the poems and stories mutually illuminating, but while moving back and forth among her various works, acknowledges the intelligent ordering of the volumes Bishop published in her lifetime. Persuasively arguing that restraint for Bishop is an essential element in the relationship she finds between language and life, this study shows how through her poems and stories she attempts to invent a language adequate to her perception.