"Sestina" by Elizabeth Bishop Essay

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The "Sestina" by Elizabeth Bishop

The "Sestina" by Elizabeth Bishop is titled after the verse form of the Italian origin by that name. However, the name of the poem is not only to remind us of its difficult and complex form, but also to enhance the subject of the poem- the fatal forces that navigate the character's lives. Thus, the main feature of the poetic form, the six repeating end-words, "grandmother", "child", "house", "stove", "almanac", "tears", all `work` together to underline this meaning, that the experience of the characters, as well as any other experience, "was to be."

The first end-word is "house." A house symbolizes a calm domestic life, but the rain falling on the house creates a sense of a
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But then in the six and the last stanzas it returns to the "foretold" system and the house now straightforwardly affected by the almanac which throws down "tears from between [its] pages...into the flower bed...in the front of the house."

The "grandmother", the "child" and the "stove" are the following end-words in the "Sestina." All three of them, as anything else in the poem, are controlled by the fatal power of the stars. The grandmother understands that the tragic and the painful situation that she and her grandchild in is unavoidable because "it was to be", as even her tears were predicted by the almanac. This powerful book "Birdlike,...hover[ing] above the old grandmother ...[and] above the child" emphasizes the fact that both of them are ruled by its' prophecies. The child expresses his/her feelings through the painting of the "man with buttons like tears." A painting that is directly linked with the almanac in the six stanza. The "stove", in contrast to the "grandmother" and the "child", is an object. Its function is to heat the house and perhaps comfort the family. In the first stanza the stove is presented as a "Little Marvel Stove." Those three capitalized and stressed words break the meter which is iambic pentameter. The stress and the capitalization of the words emphasize the great power of the "Marvel Stove", a source of heat and comfort in the poem, a
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