Off-topic request for opinion from all you literary types

ROSLYN rosgross at bigpond.net.au
Mon Jan 10 06:27:12 EST 2005


Haven't read your explanation yet, Gili, so here's my go:

>
> I have a little disagreement with someone, about the reading two
> particular
> lines in the poem "Sestina" by Elizabeth Bishop. I'd appreciate it if you
> could read the poem (which we both think is a lovely one), mull it over a
> little, then go down and read the questions after the spoiler space. Our
> argument has to do with how a typical English speaker would read the poem,
> neither of us qualify.
>
> Full text of the poem can be found here:
> http://www.sccs.swarthmore.edu/users/03/ahead/sestina.html
> and several other places online.
>
>
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> 1. In the first line of the second stanza, the poem refers to "equinoctial
> tears". Please give a synonym for "equinoctial" which you think could be
> appropriate for the poem.

If I had to give a synonym, I'd say "seasonal". It's not precise enough, but
in one word, it's the best I could do.

> 2. How do you read the lines:
>
> She shivers and says she thinks the house
> feels chilly, and puts more wood in the stove.

I saw a possible conflict or difference between "thinking" and "feeling"
there, so I think that she explains her shivering, which might be fear as 
much as cold
(her "feelings"), by "thinking" about the house (which is probably symbolic 
of her
state of mind, or of the relationship between grandmother and grandaughter).
I'm not sure this is what you mean by "how do you read", but that's the best
I can do.

> Please rewrite this in your own words.

She is afraid and cold, and attributes this to coldness in the house, so she 
makes the house warmer.

>
> I'll wait for a few responses to come in, and then explain our argument.
> Your input will be much appreciated.
>
> Gili

Ros 

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