Filling Station by Elizabeth Bishop: Poem Analysis

May 3, 2018 General Studies

In the first verse, the author opens by describing the setting as arty. She further supports this in lines 3 – 5 by stating that the station is “Oil- soaked”, “oil-permeated”, “over-all black translucency”. These compound phrases gives the reader a clear image of the unpleasant environment that the author is portraying to the reader. In the second verse, the author introduces the father, a character who embodies his surrounding environment. Dressed in what the author describes as “a dirty, oil-soaked monkey suit” which does not even fit the character’s stature, the reader can infer that the family is living under poor conditions.

This is further confirmed hen the author describes the son’s appearance as “greasy” and ‘thoroughly dirty’. In the next verse, the author moves away from the disgusting scene of the gas station and uses vivid imagery to allow the reader into her thought. She begins to ask questions and imagines ‘impregnated wickerwork/ Ion the wicker sofa/ la dirty dog, quite comfy. /. On those few lines, not only does the author give sight of the scene but also appeals to the reader’s sense of touch by the words “quite comfy. “. Those two simple words allows the reader to have an unique sense of how “quite comfy” may feel like.

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She continues in lines 21 – 27 with more imaginative words describing some of the items that she is imagining may be in the station. The items and their placements are very natural as she states that the comic books lie upon a big dim doily which is draping a tabor beside a big hirsute begonia. The fantasy of the author is contain dude in the last verse which she makes a comment as to how somebody embroidered the doily, waters the plant and arranges the rows of cans. The entire fantasy can be identified as allusions to something emotional, from what the reader can infer from.

In this fantasy, Hough the items may not be perfectly arranged and clean, there are decorative items and ornaments which brings life to what normally would be a seemingly dull setting. The last line of the poem ‘Somebody loves us all/ is a clear conclusion as to how the author believes that even under the miserable reality, the family is still lively. In this poem, the author skillfully used vivid imagery combined with simple dictions to describe the harsh conditions lived by a poor family. Later she used imagery and allusions to show that even through this difficulty that the family still loves their home.


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