Abstract

This essay offers close readings of Elizabeth Bishop’s poems “Cirque d’Hiver” and “Filling Station” aided by selections from various works by Walter Benjamin, whose book One-Way Street [Einbahnstrasse] begins with a thought-image that is also titled “Filling Station” [“Tankstelle”]. Using Benjamin’s interest in Charles Baudelaire, toys, and the miniature, his critiques of domesticity and advertisements, and his theories of collection to illuminate the poems’ formal and narrative elements, these meditations focus on Bishop’s use of rhyme in “Cirque d’Hiver” and her passing mention of “some comic books” in “Filling Station,” while also reflecting on the former poem’s previous titles, the concepts of melancholy and care, the ESSO oil brand, and poetry’s incitement to laughter.

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