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by Elizabeth Bishop

Sestina Theme of Transformation

The turn of the season certainly signals change in "Sestina," as it does just about everywhere else. The weather's changing, the temperature's dropping, and especially through the lens of the grandmother, we get the feeling that some sort of bad mojo is coming down the pike. With all the mentions of the equinox and the almanac, we can also assume there is something in the cosmos that has predicted the change that's about to come, and it ain't necessarily gonna be pretty.

Questions About Transformation

  1. What changes do you think are in store for the grandmother and the child? Are they good or bad? 
  2. Why is September a good month for a poem that wants to illustrate change? 
  3. What do the equinox and the almanac have to do with change? Think about the "foretold by the almanac" line. What could the almanac have to do with change?

Chew on This

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

The change happened before the kitchen scene takes place, and that's why the grandmother is sad. But hey, things can't get any worse, right?

The change will be good. You can tell by the laughter in the first stanza.

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