Fish Poems - Poems For Fish

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The Fish - Poem by Elizabeth Bishop

I caught a tremendous fish
and held him beside the boat
half out of water, with my hook
fast in a corner of his mouth.
He didn't fight.
He hadn't fought at all.
He hung a grunting weight,
battered and venerable
and homely. Here and there
his brown skin hung in strips
like ancient wallpaper,
and its pattern of darker brown
was like wallpaper:
shapes like full-blown roses
stained and lost through age.
He was speckled with barnacles,
fine rosettes of lime,
and infested
with tiny white sea-lice,
and underneath two or three
rags of green weed hung down.
While his gills were breathing in
the terrible oxygen
- the frightening gills,
fresh and crisp with blood,
that can cut so badly-
I thought of the coarse white flesh
packed in like feathers,
the big bones and the little bones,
the dramatic reds and blacks
of his shiny entrails,
and the pink swim-bladder
like a big peony.
I looked into his eyes
which were far larger than mine
but shallower, and yellowed,
the irises backed and packed
with tarnished tinfoil
seen through the lenses
of old scratched isinglass.
They shifted a little, but not
to return my stare.
- It was more like the tipping
of an object toward the light.
I admired his sullen face,
the mechanism of his jaw,
and then I saw
that from his lower lip
- if you could call it a lip
grim, wet, and weaponlike,
hung five old pieces of fish-line,
or four and a wire leader
with the swivel still attached,
with all their five big hooks
grown firmly in his mouth.
A green line, frayed at the end
where he broke it, two heavier lines,
and a fine black thread
still crimped from the strain and snap
when it broke and he got away.
Like medals with their ribbons
frayed and wavering,
a five-haired beard of wisdom
trailing from his aching jaw.
I stared and stared
and victory filled up
the little rented boat,
from the pool of bilge
where oil had spread a rainbow
around the rusted engine
to the bailer rusted orange,
the sun-cracked thwarts,
the oarlocks on their strings,
the gunnels- until everything
was rainbow, rainbow, rainbow!
And I let the fish go.

Comments about The Fish by Elizabeth Bishop

  • Gold Star - 20,045 Points Spock The Vegan (12/27/2015 6:19:00 PM)

    What a great poem, but a fish story, so I don't believe it happened. I may have to add her to my favorite poets list. (Report) Reply

    11 person liked.
    15 person did not like.
  • Gold Star - 62,258 Points * Sunprincess * (8/18/2015 1:07:00 AM)

    .....beautifully written...I'm very pleased she let him go ★ (Report) Reply

  • Gold Star - 131,422 Points Fabrizio Frosini (7/11/2015 6:06:00 AM)

    the inextinguishable struggle of life... (Report) Reply

Read all 12 comments »

Poems About Fish

  1. 1. The Fish , Elizabeth Bishop
  2. 2. Heaven , Rupert Brooke
  3. 3. The Fish , William Butler Yeats
  4. 4. To A Fish , James Henry Leigh Hunt
  5. 5. The Maldive Shark , Herman Melville
  6. 6. Fish And Shadow , Ezra Pound
  7. 7. The Fish , Marianne Moore
  8. 8. Address To Certain Golfishes , Hartley Coleridge
  9. 9. When Fishes Set Umbrellas Up , Christina Georgina Rossetti
  10. 10. The Jellyfish , Ogden Nash
  11. 11. 'Tin Fish' , Rudyard Kipling
  12. 12. Flying Fish , Carl Sandburg
  13. 13. The Song Of Hiawatha Viii: Hiawatha's Fi.. , Henry Wadsworth Longfellow
  14. 14. A Fish Answers , James Henry Leigh Hunt
  15. 15. The Shepherd Piping To The Fishes , Anne Kingsmill Finch
  16. 16. Monologue Of A Commercial Fisherman , Alan Dugan
  17. 17. Our Biggest Fish , Eugene Field
  18. 18. Fish Food (An Obituary To Hart Crane) , John Brooks Wheelwright
  19. 19. When The Fishing Boats Go Out , Lucy Maud Montgomery
  20. 20. Miss Molly And The Little Fishes , Kate Greenaway
  21. 21. A Wreath To The Fish , Nancy Willard
  22. 22. The South Wind: A Fisherman's Blessing , Charles Kingsley
  23. 23. We Fish , Herman Melville
  24. 24. An Epitaph On A Goldfish , Richard Le Gallienne
  25. 25. Fishing Song: To J.A. Froude And Tom Hug.. , Charles Kingsley
  26. 26. The Fishmonger’s Lament , Charles Robert Forrester
  27. 27. Fishes , Mircea Dinescu
  28. 28. Salmon-Fishing , Robinson Jeffers
  29. 29. Fishing , Paul Laurence Dunbar
  30. 30. Yes, The Fish Music , Richard Brautigan
  31. 31. Fisherfolk , Robert William Service
  32. 32. This Is Thy Brother, This Poor Silver Fish , Philip Henry Savage
  33. 33. Fishin'-Hunger , Edgar Albert Guest
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