Elizabeth Bishop – Filling Station Date Objectives: 1. Introduce and annotate the poem 2. Explore theme of Family.
Elizabeth Bishop – Filling Station 1. Date Warm-up: Describe a garage/ gas station/ Maxol in as much detail as possible in 3 -5 sentences.
Who is the poet? �Bishop – father died before she was one. Mother hospitalised due to mental illness when she was five, and later died. Lived with grandparents. Family is an important theme. �She was rather wealthy or rich, went to the best schools and could have become a doctor. She loved travelling though, meeting real people and talking about the working class.
Context for this poem. � 1965 – California – petrol stations everywhere. Bishop decides to describe one and have it represent the world. �Imagine a posh lady being amused seeing a gas station for the first time – that’s the tone.
Let’s read – Filling Station � Oh, but it is dirty! —this little filling station, oil-soaked, oil-permeated to a disturbing, over-all black translucency. Be careful with that match! � Father wears a dirty, oil-soaked monkey suit that cuts him under the arms, and several quick and saucy and greasy sons assist him (it’s a family filling station), all quite thoroughly dirty. � Do they live in the station? It has a cement porch behind the pumps, and on it a set of crushed and greaseimpregnated wickerwork; on the wicker sofa a dirty dog, quite comfy. Some comic books provide the only note of color— of certain color. They lie upon a big dim doily draping a taboret (part of the set), beside a big hirsute begonia. Why the extraneous plant? Why the taboret? Why, oh why, the doily? (Embroidered in daisy stitch with marguerites, I think, and heavy with gray crochet. ) Somebody embroidered the doily. Somebody waters the plant, or oils it, maybe. Somebody arranges the rows of cans so that they softly say: ESSO—SO—SO—SO to high-strung automobiles. Somebody loves us all.
Note this down: �Stanza 1 �The speaker’s trying to make sense of the strange sight before her. �The tone seems shocked at first but she also seems to enjoy the place. It is ‘little’ or cozy and the speaker jokes about a match. �Have you ever found something strange and cool/cute at the same time?
Note this down: �Stanza 2 �The poet describes the people who work there in the same playful manner. �Sons help their father with great energy while being very dirty. �Imagine this from the point of view of someone without parents. Can you see how envy might appear?
Note this down: �Stanza 3 �The poet can’t believe that they live in the station but describes evidence that they do. �It is quite homely and ‘comfy’. �What are your impressions of the poet here? Try not to see her as mocking a poor family, but as by being hit by wonder.
Note this down: �Stanza 4 �The poet sees things that seem out of place. A comic first, but then decorative objects. �Doily – a lace-like napkin. Begonia – a large flower. �These are not things associated with men or boys. �Who might have put them there?
Note this down: �Stanza 5 �Why would someone go to the bother to add these feminine and decorative touches to this busy and dirty place. �Someone even sewed a flower on the napkin. �Is this about a gas station any more or about the poet? What is she looking for? What is she missing?
Note this down: �Stanza 6 �The poet answers her questions. She notices a mother’s touches everywhere. This is an unseen but very important figure. �We should all be nice to our mothers. Consider talking to her tonight about this poem.
Questions on back of page �Complete questions for homework. �Cooldown - finish the following sentences. �I think. . . �I know. . . . �I want to know. . . .