Elizabeth Bishop's Complete Poems (1927-1979) has come to seem to most of its readers so achieved and sufficient as a life's work that it is hard not to lose sight of how slowly Bishop wrote poems and of how few poems, finally, she completed. But Bishop herself never ceased to find her productivity inadequate. The size and pace of her output were always in her eyes a failing (vaguely moral in complexion) for which she apologized throughout her career, although, as I will argue in this essay, Bishop's inability to write more poems than she did was also a refusal to do so. The small, manageable size of Bishop's body of work has facilitated its extraordinary critical reception since her death. (Robert Lowell, whose oeuvre is so much larger, has never had a complete edition of his poetry published.) Yet the size of her work is also a sign of Bishop's alienation, that is, her uneasy, resistant relation to the literary culture that today claims her as the major poet of her generation.