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Questions of Travel

Questions of Travel


by Elizabeth Bishop

Questions of Travel Theme of Exploration

"Questions of Travel" is a poem that, well, asks questions about traveling. Why do we journey to the ends of the earth? Can we learn just as much when we're plopped in front of the TV watching the Discovery Channel? We keep asking questions here because that's what Bishop does throughout her poem. And the interesting thing is that she never fully answers any of her questions about exploring the world. Bishop leaves a whole lot up to us in "Questions of Travel." So, read the poem, ponder, go out and explore, and then please—report back to us at Shmoop. We're dying for some answers.

Questions About Exploration

  1. Does the speaker portray traveling as a selfish act? Why or why not? 
  2. Do you think that the speaker has actually traveled a lot in her life? Or has she just thought a lot about traveling? 
  3. What assumptions does the speaker make about people who explore the world? Is she talking about all travelers, or a certain kind of traveler in her poem? 
  4. Does the poem make you want to go out and explore the world? 

Chew on This

Try on an opinion or two, start a debate, or play the devil’s advocate.

"Questions of Travel" argues that traveling and exploration are totally selfish activities because there's nothing useful to be gained from seeing the world. It's all about me me me.

"Questions of Travel" argues that traveling and exploration are worthy ways to spend one's time, because the only way a person can actually learn anything about the world is by going out and seeing it for themselves.

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