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In the Waiting Room

In the Waiting Room


by Elizabeth Bishop

In the Waiting Room Analysis

Symbolism, Imagery, Wordplay

National Geographic is a famous magazine that's been around since 1888. It covers topics such as geography, science, the environment, anthropology, history, and culture. In Bishop's day, it was kno...

Form and Meter

This poem was written in free verse; it has no set rhyme scheme or meter. One interesting thing about the poem's form is that, in a way, it shrinks as it goes along. The poem is made up of five sta...


The speaker of the poem is Elizabeth, who may or may not be Elizabeth Bishop herself, who may or may not be recounting a real childhood experience. As we discussed in our "Summary," some of the "fa...


"In the Waiting Room" takes place in… wait for it… a waiting room. More specifically, it takes place in the waiting room at a dentist's office. Sound exciting to you? Not really? Actually, the...

Sound Check

"In the Waiting Room" has short and clear lines. When you read the poem out loud, it sounds pretty clipped and matter-of-fact. Even the big emotional moments of the poem (when Elizabeth is asking a...

What's Up With the Title?

The title sets the scene of the poem, which takes place in the waiting room of a dentist's office. It's kind of a strange place to set a poem. It's somewhere you go just to, well, wait for somethin...

Calling Card

Bishop is known for her finely tuned and precise poems. In a Bishop poem, every word matters. She is a master of detailed description. She doesn't just tell us that she's reading National Geographi...


This poem isn't too hard to understand. What is hard about it is those darn questions that Elizabeth raises. What are the answers, Liz Bishop? What is the meaning of life? Fortunately for us, not k...


Robert Lowell dedicated his poem "Skunk Hour" to Bishop. Bishop, in turn dedicated her poem "The Armadillo" to him. These poets like their animals. (Lowell's poem; Bishop's poem)Bishop spent years...

Steaminess Rating

This isn't exactly a sexy poem, but we'll go ahead and give it a PG-13 for nudity.


Worcester, MassachusettsNational GeographicOsa and Martin JohnsonWorld War I

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