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Questions of Travel

Questions of Travel

by Elizabeth Bishop

Exploration Quotes Page 1

How we cite our quotes:

Quote #1

Think of the long trip home.
Should we have stayed at home and thought of here?
Where should we be today? (13-15)

See, the problem is, after you've done all this awesome exploring, you have to haul your butt back home. And that's one long trip. Probably pretty boring, too. So is traveling worth all that effort? Is there a better way to spend one's time? Those are fair enough questions, and they lead our speaker to wonder if she would have been better off at home, thinking about waterfalls, rather than seeing them.

Quote #2

What childishness is it that while there's a breath of life
in our bodies, we are determined to rush
to see the sun the other way around? (18-20)

The speaker calls the desire to explore the world "childish." Or, to be more exact, she asks if this desire is childish. It seems like she's torn. Which is understandable. These are some big questions she's tackling.

Quote #3

The tiniest green hummingbird in the world?
To stare at some inexplicable old stonework,
inexplicable and impenetrable,
at any view,
instantly seen and always, always delightful? (22-25)

Here the speaker lists the things she might see while exploring the world. She might see "inexplicable" stonework, but it will be "always, always delightful." It sounds like she's starting to express some pro-travel sentiments here. After all, stonework is delightful! And what's better than delight? In fact, maybe "delight" is the answer to all of the speaker's questions. Maybe we do things because they delight us, rather than because they have some deeper meaning. But do you think that a search for delight is reason enough to travel to the other side of the globe? Should there be a greater, nobler purpose to jetsetting?

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