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The Fish

Elizabeth Bishop

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Connected to her own life
Added by: Simon Leamy
I think this is an excellent poem. She begins to identify with the fish and sees a mirror image in the fish. The fish has gone through alot of pain in the past as it was caught many times before and she herself had a painful childhood. Her father died when she was young and her mother went nuts. She compares hairs on the fishs' chin as medals - and she herself has won medals for her poetry. An excellent way of comparing her life with the life of an animal.
The Fish as Sage
Added by: sherry
I find The Fish to be an all time simple ode to truths inherent in Nature. In the last part where the fish is let go, I believe she did this because of this beings ability to surrender itself in that moment. This surrendering moved the narrator to cry out "RainbowRainbowRainbow" perhaps in the only way we as humans ultimately surernder first through the senses, the sixth sense being language and the seeming non-senseical exhaultations that stream forth to realize our desires. Rainbow three times is then willing the fish to live on and on and on in what ever way she will call it to life in remebering the lesson.
Added by: Peter
The idea behind it's alright and all, but it really could have been phrase so as not to take up half as much space. This poem is really in need of condensing.

Oh, and it's clearly about experiance and age and survival; doesn't really say anything new about it though.
Bishop & Oliver
Added by: Dan
For an interesting comparison, check out Mary Oliver's poem "The Fish." I think there's a pretty clear connection, both in terms of theme and treatment.
Rainbow colors
Added by: rebekah
I am suprised that no one has mentioned the fact that the rainbow rainbow rainbow clearly dipicts her sexual life as a lesbian. Rainbow colors are widely known as the banner for gar rights. the fish being a self portrait of Bishops own life ends with the proclamation of her sexuality.
I totally agree!
Added by: _nikita89_
The Fish doesn't only resemble Elizabeth's childhood, but it could also tell of our future. We stumble and fight for what we believe in and we always come out as winners in the end.
The Final Victory
Added by: Maureen Nelson
As I heard the story unfold in a poetry reading I was swept away, almost smelling the old boat and the the scent you can only smell when you are surrounded by water. Through her words, I returned to that time with Elizabeth, seeing through her eyes, grasping with her hands that heavy cold fish.

As we peered into the depths of the fish, measuring its mettle, thought and tone changed within the poem. I began to follow the direction of Elizabeth's thoughts to my "coarse white flesh packed in like feathers." I remembered moments of my own resignation to life, feeling "more like the tipping of an object toward the light."

I pondered the hooks in my life that left scars. As the poem ends, Elizabeth and I sat silently as the wake of the fishes' final victory rocked our boat.

This poem gave me strength. Thank you so much for bringing the thoughts of Elizabeth Bishop into my home, my dreams. She is immortal now and forever. I cannot wait to see what thoughts of her words slip into my art.
The Fish - Elizabeth Bishop
Added by: Rory
Haven't any of you considered that the fish might be a metaphor for the poetic "idea" or "Muse" ?- the poet tries to capture it - as many poets have done previously (he has been caught on "lines" many times previously - note the pun). She holds him only for the duration of the poem. Bear in mind that she catches him in the first line and when the poem ends, the poet "let[s]" the fish/idea "go".
Added by: Dylan Talley
Bravo, Rory. I don't think Bishop would have resorted to such a cliche philosophical theme as "experience" ect. And I know what it feels like to have no catch. Your explanation of the poem is more sensical than everyone else's.
If we are operating on this new assumption
Added by: Dylan Talley
I would also like to add that the last four lines have an AABB rhyme scheme; she may have been using this ancient poetic device to show the accomplishment of the goal. And her release of the line may be the release of her finished, crafted art.

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