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Questions of Travel

Questions of Travel

by Elizabeth Bishop

The Home Quotes

How we cite our quotes:

Quote #4

"Is it lack of imagination that makes us come
to imagined places, not just stay at home?
Or could Pascal have been not entirely right
about just sitting quietly in one's room?
(60-63)

In these final lines, Bishop asks again whether the traveller would be better off home alone with just her dreams and imagination. Pascal, after all, said "the sole cause of man's unhappiness is that he does not know how to stay quietly in his room." Why do you think the speaker references Pascal here? What's the point of bringing a philosopher into her poem? Is she just trying to sound smart?

Quote #5

Continent, city, country, society:
the choice is never wide and never free.
And here, or there . . . No. Should we have stayed at home,
wherever that may be?"
(64-67)

In the previous stanza, it seemed the traveller was really thinking that she'd be better off at home, snug in her bed with only her imagination. But in these final lines, Bishop offers up a subtle, but important distinction. She asks, "Should we have stayed at home / wherever that may be?" By suggesting that home is not in just one place—that it can be wherever, or anywhere—Bishop seems to hint you make your home where you choose to make your home. And if this is true, there's no point to all of the earlier questions. Home is where you make it, baby. Or not. Feel free to argue with us. We like a good fight (of the literary variety).

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