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Questions of Travel

Questions of Travel

by Elizabeth Bishop

Questions of Travel Questions

Bring on the tough stuff - there’s not just one right answer.

  1. What do you know about the speaker of the poem? Is it Bishop herself? How can you tell?
  2. What's up with all the waterfalls, rivers, and streams? Why are they so threatening to the speaker? Why does the speaker use these specific, watery images to convey her feelings?
  3. What's the relationship between the clogs and the birdcage? And why does the speaker spend so much time talking about them?
  4. Do you think that the poem answers any of the questions it asks? Or does it just throw things out there for us to ponder deep into the night?
  5. Why do the poem's last two stanzas look so different from the rest? Why are they italicized and placed into quotation marks? What's the effect of this change in the poem's form? 
  6. Imagine that the poem had different formal elements; imagine, say, that it rhymed, or that it was written in iambic pentameter. How would this change the way you read the poem? How would the meaning be affected?

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