Full name Professor Subject Date Fish out of the Water Elizabeth Bishop’s The Fish is a free verse poem which vividly describes a tremendous fish that the speaker caught. It is written in a manner that it does not only give imageries to the reader but also uses literary devices such as metaphors and similes to make the images come alive and the messages be understood by presenting ordinary observations in everyday life…
Although the main character in the poem is a fish, the situations described therein are not only applicable to the fish itself but is reflective of the struggles of common human beings. Therefore, the discussions in this paper will be dealing with the literary devices used in the poem as well as their relations to the poet. Elizabeth Bishop clearly describes the fish in her poem and brings her readers to think about common things in life observed everyday as a way of bringing connections from the fish to the reader. She brings out common observances as a way of saying, “This is not simply a talk about a fish but this is also about us”. First and foremost, the author calls the attention of her readers to the “tremendous fish” that she caught by describing how the fish hung from her hook, looking “battered and venerable and homely”. In real life, there are so many people with such situations- people who have been through a lot of troubled times but by overcoming, they have gained a respectable status. The word “homely” expresses the thought of the poet of this circumstance as a common predicament and not an extraordinary situation and therefore, makes a common ground for the fish and the reader. Early in life, Bishop experienced several troubles herself and was introduced to the words ‘struggles’, ‘trials’, ‘tests’, ‘grief’, ‘disappointments’ and many other difficulties even when she was still unable to understand words. While she was merely eight months old, Bishops’ father died from a disease he has been suffering for six years. This became the start of her troubled life because although her mother was a respectable woman, she was greatly distressed with the death of her husband which led her to get in and out of the mental hospital for the rest of her life (harvardsquarelibrary.org, Miller). As a result, Bishop had a short-lived relationship with her mother because she eventually died when the poet was but five years old. Nevertheless, she tells of memories about her mother such as the boat ride they had when she was around three years old wherein one of the live swans bit her mother’s finger when she tried to give it some peanuts. On another occasion, she picked up a “woman’s black cotton stocking” which represents an intimate clothing and she was reprimanded of her curiosity by her mother. As a result, she became indignant of her mother and did not have such a good relationship from then on (Miller). From the accounts above, it is clear that even at a young age, Bishop has been through tough times and she sees herself in the fish but as mentioned earlier, she also sees other people’s lives in the fish. She then describes the physical appearance of the fish, commenting on its skin. Bishop uses simile not only to give a vivid description but also to bring the reader from the setting where the speaker is fishing to the world beyond it where other people are living. Similes such as “his brown skin hung like strips”, “like ancient wallpaper” and “like full blown roses” give color to the images presented and make the fish an interesting character contrary to what really happens in daily life. Such commonality and vivid descriptions come together as attractions to the reader to consider what the poet is saying. Sure ...
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