First Death in Nova Scotia
Here we see how a young child struggles to cope with the understanding of death. We also see how the young child uses objects in the room to understand the boy’s death. This is one of few poems that make reference to her mother with that reference being short and unemotional. The child tries to avoid the issue of death by studying everything around the coffin and when faced with the body comparing it to familiar things.
Poetic devices: Metaphors to avoid dealing with the issue of death (stz4)
Descriptive language to give us a clear picture of the objects in the room to show how hard the child tries to avoid looking at the body.
Repetition of the word white and variations on the word cold/frozen to give the eerie, death feel to the poem (L 1, 15, 17, 18, 28, 30, 32, 34, and 40)
The Filling Station looks at the idea that first appearances can be deceptive and, like The Fish, Bishop shows her eye for detail. Here Bishop shows a clear dislike for her surroundings but her attention is caught by some of the more feminine objects and touches to the filling station. We have to ask ourselves why Bishop is so intent on finding a female influence in this station.
Poetic devices: Repetition in the first stanza draws attention to the dirt of the place. The repetition of the word somebody puts emphasis on the fact that Bishop is in search of some form of love but has not yet found it.
In the Waiting Room
This poem deals with the loss of childhood innocence. It is the realisation that the child is not as unique as she has once thought and shares the same features as those around her and that scares her.
Poetic devices: The volcano mentioned in line 17 becomes a metaphor for the emotions that build up in the child as the poem develops.
Simplistic language used to create the childlike reading of the poem.
A poem with incredible description of a fish Bishop had caught. This fish acquires greater significance as the poem develops. The development of the struggles of the fish mirrors the struggles that Bishop herself has had to overcome in her life.
Poetic devices: The simplicity of the description adds to the realism.
The detailed description and use of emotive language used in the poem also help to humanise and romanticise the fish, making the reader feel sorry for it.
Questions of Travel
Bishop questions her own idea of place and belonging and leaves us asking ourselves where we truly belong. Here the main question is do we need to travel to experience life. This reflects on Bishops struggle to find a home and is representative of her own life and many travels.
Poetic devices: Punctuation is heavily used in this poem to make us stop and think on the many questions that are raised and to make us aware that they are uneasy questions to answer.
This poem addresses many of the issues that Bishop had to deal with through her life with the main two being addiction and a sense of place or belonging.
Poetic devices: The poem itself is a metaphor for her life
This poem shows how children can be more aware of what is going on around them than an adult might presume. The grandmother goes about her day not realising that the girl is aware of the sadness in the house. The child puts her focus on the objects in the house to avoid her grandmother’s sadness. This poem deals with the aftermath of her mother’s incarceration. Like First Death in Nova Scotia the child is drawn to the objects in the room rather than dealing with the issues.
Poetic devices: Repetition of the words tears and child help to set the mood and tone of the poem.