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 effect does the tone have on the Four Poems?

2. To what does Bishop devote three poems to in North and South?

3. What types of fish does the old man in "At the Fishhouses" catch?

4. How long does the poet spend in Brazil?

5. What geographical locations do the poems in North and South portray?

Short Essay Questions

1. What is Bishop comparing in "Large Bad Picture" when she refers to "commerce or contemplation"?

2. Why does "Arrival at Santos" end with the tour group heading toward the interior of Brazil?

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

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

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. How does Bishop portray water in the poems in North and South?

7. In what way does the language contrast with the emotional situation in "Songs for a Colored Singer?"

8. How does Bishop feel about winter in "The Colder the Air"?

9. How does the title of "The Man-Moth" alter the feel of the poem?

10. Why does Bishop chose the word "flying" in "Invitation to Miss Marianne Moore"?

Essay Topics

Write an essay for ONE of the following topics:

Essay Topic 1

Bishop's writing was not immune to the politics of the day. "The Hanging of the Mouse" and "Lullaby for the Cat" deal to some extent with the political times in which they were written. Discuss Bishop's unique approach to politics and its effectiveness. How can the reader tell that these are political poems? How does Bishop try to mask this fact? What is her ultimate goal in writing these poems--are they merely art, or an attempt to effect political change?

Essay Topic 2

How are the poems composed in Bishop's youth unique in the collection? Do you see a difference in maturity between these and the later poems? Are there any clues in the earlier poems that predict what kind of poet Bishop will become? What differences do you see in terms of subject matter and approach? Do you think it was appropriate that the editors included poetry composed in Bishop's teen years, before she gained recognition? How would the reader's appreciation of Bishop as a writer be different if these poems had been omitted from the book?

Essay Topic 3

Choose three poems that employ metaphor and/or simile, and discuss Bishop's use of these poetic devices. How does she employ them? How do they contribute to each poem's effectiveness? How would the poems be different if these had been omitted? Compare and contrast the ways metaphor and/or simile are applied in the three poems.

(see the answer keys)

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