“Filling Station” by Elizabeth Bishop: A Poetry Analysis Essay

“Filling Station” by Elizabeth Bishop: A Poetry Analysis Essay

Our activity

  • 86,941

    Finished orders

  • 732

    Professional writers

  • 103

    Writers online now

  • 14

    Operators are online

  • 4,9

    Of 5 average writers' score

Elizabeth Bishop’s poem “Filling Station” is a clear show of her mastery of the genre. The poem has clearly brought an aspect that affects all of us, love. The fact that every single person in the world has a person that cares for them, regardless of who they are or what they have done. Elizabeth hasn’t spared us any details, although the whole poem is set on a stationary platform, a filling station; the observer at the filling station goes into details painting a precise picture of the atmosphere at the place. This poetry analysis essay of the “Filling Station” by Elizabeth Bishop will focus on the use of imagery, symbols, wordplay, and tone.

“Filling Station” by Elizabeth Bishop: Overview

Analysis of “Filling Station” by Elizabeth Bishop makes for an excellent sample poetry analysis essay. The title, speaker, setting, length, and level of formality of the essay have all been designed to deliver the point home by giving a clear descriptive image of the filling station and how it reflects human beings. The poem’s speaker is at a gas station, just as the title suggests. She looks around the place and notes every single detail that makes the place a dump: the station’s owner is dressed in oversized coveralls working with his son, who is also covered in grease just like the rest of station. She even concludes that there’s a probability that they live there because of the comic books, the mangy-looking dog, the wicker sofa, and the cement porch. Despite the fact that the place is a dump, she can tell that the place is being cared for.

Order Now

The details in the poem lead to one conclusion “someone loves us all”. A deeper analysis makes us question the “filling station” in our lives and the level of care that we offer. The poem challenges us to be open to forming connections, basically letting ourselves be cared for and loved. The reality is that it is part of being human, it is what makes us who we are and at some point, we must realize that someone loves us all regardless.

Poetry Analysis Essay: What Does It Entail?

An understanding of what a poetry analysis essay is all about is necessary. A poetry analysis essay can be defined as an essay that reveals the readers’ level of understanding of poems. Poems are literature pieces that utilize figurative language in different lines creating rhyme and rhythm. The “Filling Station” by Elizabeth Bishop is among the exceptional poems written over the years. The wordplay in the poem is what brings it to life. This poetry analysis essay example will highlight the different aspects and tools that the poet used to drive the point home. To successfully write a poetry analysis essay, it is crucial that you read and reread the poem, otherwise, you will lose the plot and your essay will go wrong.

“Filling Station” by Elizabeth Bishop: Analysis

The Title

There is really not much to say about the title. The title simply refers to the main subject which in this case is a filling station. I find it necessary to note that Bishop in her poems uses a title that simply focuses on the primary subject.


First Death in Nova Scotia

In the poem, Elizabeth Bishop talks about her first encounter with death. It was the death of her cousin.

The Fish

From the start of the poem, it is obvious the main subject is fish… “I caught a tremendous fish and held him beside…”

Just as in the “Filling Station”, the above poems have a title that simply highlights the subject. Therefore, we can conclude that the title doesn’t reveal much but only highlights the subject matter.


The poem is somewhat informal. It does not really conform to formal guidelines, however, Bishop keeps it organized. At a glance, the poem has six stanzas, made up of either six or seven lines with the exception of the final stanza with eight lines.

There are no formal guidelines but a pattern can be noted. The poem has short lines which are uniform. They play into the plot of the story. Being a descriptive poem, in my analysis, I concluded that the short lines are best for description. Considering that there is not much action in the poem, long lines would be a bore and it would lose its meaning.

In this poetry analysis essay example, we note the use of repetition. Certain words and phrases have been repeated throughout the poem. They are also key in setting the poem’s overall rhythm.


The narrator in the poem is an excellent observer. She spares no details while describing the filling station. At the beginning, the observer is rather cold and very judgmental, but at the end, we see that she warms up and is actually nice. She may be a bit opinionated, but she does a good job of painting a picture of the filling station – every aspect from the detail that it’s a dump to the fact that despite its state, it is cared for in its own “sad kind of way”.

We do not know who the narrator is, male or female. For the purposes of analysis, the speaker is a she.

Choice of Words

“Dirty”, “oil-soaked”, “greasy”, “somebody”, “doily”, and “oil-permeated” are among the words used to pass the point across. The “oi” sound enhances our mental picture of the state of the filling station. The choice of words creates a tone of the poem. In this instance, other than “oi”, we note the use of “k” such as in “comfy” and “ow”. Each serves to create a specific unique tone. Take an example of the mention of the cans and the sound they produce “… ESSO–SO–SO–SO”… This drifts your thoughts to cars and other machines at the station.


Elizabeth Bishop, apart from being a poet, also loved to travel. We can almost assume that she came across the gas station during one of her travels. The filling station is the main stage of the poem. The dirt and filth in that atmosphere is the center of the poem. As you read the poem, it is stationary at the station, probably a way of not distracting us from the main point. We just know that it’s a filling station, its exact location is not really clear. The greasy oily setting was ideal for making us see that regardless of where we are, who we are, and our past and present actions, there’s still someone who cares.

Allegory, Imagery, and Symbolism

Symbolism has been used to indicate the state of things at the station. The oily home at the start indicates the level of grossness but as we proceed with the poem, the tone changes and we get a better picture. We also note the use of questions. The imagery and symbolism in the poem serve to give us an image of how the filling station looks like.


“Filling Station” by Elizabeth Bishop is a poem that makes us realize that somebody loves us all regardless of the baggage that we carry. This sample poetry analysis essay focuses on the different aspects that have enhanced the poem to deliver the message.