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 man in "The Riverman" want to be?

2. Why is the auntie surprised by the burglar's actions in "The Burglar of Babylon"?

3. What is described in "Love Lies Sleeping"?

4. What does the singer do in "Songs for a Colored Singer?"

5. What does Bishop's uncommon vocabulary reflect about her settings?

Short Essay Questions

1. How is the writing style in "The Riverman" unlike most of Bishop's poems?

2. How would you characterize the speaker's relationship to the title character in "Manuelzinho"?

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

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

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

6. What is the significance of the title of "The Prodigal"?

7. What is similar about the poems in North and South devoted to morning?

8. How does Bishop use humor in "Manners"?

9. 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."?

10. What surprise does Bishop reveal in the last line of "Insomnia?"

Essay Topics

Write an essay for ONE of the following topics:

Essay Topic 1

What is Bishop's attitude toward the characters in "Exchanging Hats"? Is it objective or judgmental? Support your claim with specific quotations from the poem. Does her attitude seem out of character for Bishop, considering the sense of humor she displays in other poems? Do you think her attitude has to do with the fact that the trend she witnesses is started by an "unfunny uncle"? Might she view things differently if the trend had been started by someone she admired?

Essay Topic 2

"Letter to N.Y." and "Invitation to Miss Marianne Moore" are both letters to friends of the poet in poetic form. How do these poems differ from the others in the collection? Consider the reader's knowledge about the speaker, the level of intimacy, and in what person the poems are composed. What is the overall effect of these differences on the reader? Do you think it is appropriate for these letters to be considered poetry in the same league with the rest of the collection? Why or why not?

Essay Topic 3

Death is a common theme among the poems Bishop chose to translate, though rare among the poems she penned herself. Why do you think this is? Given what you know about Bishop as a writer based on the rest of the book, do you think this was a coincidence, or do you think she was attracted to poetry that dealt with death? What type of language does Bishop use when referring to death; does it vary from poem to poem? Does this section offer us any insight into her own thoughts about death, or only into the original poets' views on death?

(see the answer keys)

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