An Anyalsis of the poem 'The Fish' by Elizabeth Bishop

Essay by Trent_in_ChinaHigh School, 11th gradeA, August 2006

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The poem 'The Fish' by Elizabeth Bishop is a narrative poem told in first person about the capture of a fish by an amateur fisher and the progression of the understanding for the beauty of nature.

As the poem progresses the speaker moves from a sympathetic pitiful view to a respected and admiring view of the fish. The internal confrontation of the speaker is aided with vivid imagery and similes. The speaker convinces the reader alternatively of both the fish's beauty and its repulsiveness. She describes the fish as old and battered, "Brown skin hung in strips like ancient wall paper", "was like wallpaper: shapes like full brown roses stained and lost through age." The fish's skin is twice compared with wallpaper, something dull and artificial. She seems to be displeased with her own simile, repeating it twice to show her displeasure of the fish. The images that the speaker first describes the fish with, are those that are on the outside, the fish's appearance.

She then seems to try to delve inside the fish seeing past his appearance, "Underneath two or three rags of green weed", she describes "The coarse with flesh packed in like feathers". Even though she may not be describing a characteristic of the fish, she still uses 'feathers' to describe his flesh, to show the fishes beauty inside. The comparison latter in the poem "Like medals with their ribbons frayed and wavering" symbolizes the fish being a decorated war-hero, the use of wavering especially gives an image of courage and pride. The progression of the fish's similes again emphasizes the speaker's progression to understanding the fish's beauty. The first similes where that of wallpaper something artificial, then to feathers, something from an animal and finally the fish is compared to a war hero, something...