The Complete Poems, 1927-1979 Test | Mid-Book Test - Hard

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This test consists of 5 short answer questions, 10 short essay questions, and 1 (of 3) essay topics.

Short Answer Questions

1. What does the poet hope to gain by knowing the answers to her questions in "Letter to N.Y."?

2. What happens in "A Miracle for Breakfast"?

3. What quality do the poems in North and South share?

4. When were the poems in North and South collected?

5. What does the viewer hear in "View of the Capitol from the Library of Congress"?

Short Essay Questions

1. In "Questions of Travel," does the poet decide it is better to travel, or stay home and use one's imagination?

2. Why does Bishop use the structure of building each line upon the last in "Visits to St. Elizabeth's"?

3. What is the relationship between the fisherman and the fishhouse in "At the Fishhouses"?

4. Why does the character in "The Gentleman of Shalott" think half of him would be enough?

5. What is the meaning of the lines "I'm afraid if it's wheat it's none of your sowing" in "Letter to N.Y."?

6. In "Electrical Storm," why are the pearls twice described as dead?

7. How do the poet's descriptions in "Arrival at Santos" reflect her dual state of mind?

8. In what form is "The Burglar of Babylon" written? Why does the poet use this form?

9. What two things is Bishop comparing in "Brazil, January 1, 1502"?

10. How does Bishop portray the hermit's loneliness in "Chemin de Fer"?

Essay Topics

Write an essay for ONE of the following topics:

Essay Topic 1

What does "12 O'Clock News" tell us about Bishop's unique powers of observation and her ability to see things from a different perspective? Why do you think she chose to present the items in terms of newspaper stories? Do you think she is merely being playful, or is this a more serious commentary on journalism? Use specific examples from the poem to support your claim.

Essay Topic 2

Describe Bishop's sense of humor as evidenced by her poetry. Is her humorous tone consistent across the various poems, or does it change? Why do you think she chooses a humorous approach in these poems? How does it make the poetry more effective? How would these poems be different if the writing were more objective? Cite specific poems to support your claim. Some poems you might consider include "The Man-Moth," "Lines Written in the Fannie Farmer Cookbook," and "12 O'Clock News."

Essay Topic 3

What do you think is meant by the heading "Occasional Poems"? What does the word "occasional" connote in this context? How are the poems in this section alike and different? Are there any that you feel don't belong in this collection? Why or why not? How would your understanding of Bishop as a writer differ if these poems had been omitted?

(see the answer keys)

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