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 - 26,312 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

    16 person liked.
    17 person did not like.
  • Gold Star - 63,035 Points * Sunprincess * (8/18/2015 1:07:00 AM)

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

  • Gold Star - 137,724 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. What Fish Feel , Matsuo Basho
  3. 3. The Fish , William Butler Yeats
  4. 4. The Goose Fish , Howard Nemerov
  5. 5. The Fish , Marianne Moore
  6. 6. Our Biggest Fish , Eugene Field
  7. 7. A Wreath To The Fish , Nancy Willard
  8. 8. Fish Crier , Carl Sandburg
  9. 9. A Fish Answers , James Henry Leigh Hunt
  10. 10. A Mullet Is Not A Fish? ? , Sidi J. Mahtrow
  11. 11. Fish, The , Rupert Brooke
  12. 12. Yes, The Fish Music , Richard Brautigan
  13. 13. I Laugh When I Hear That The Fish In The.. , Kabir
  14. 14. The Lung Fish , Banjo Paterson
  15. 15. We Fish , Herman Melville
  16. 16. The Fish , Rupert Brooke
  17. 17. Fish , Keki Daruwalla
  18. 18. Fish And Shadow , Ezra Pound
  19. 19. Aquarium Fish , Padraic Colum
  20. 20. Fish , Moniza Alvi
  21. 21. Caring For A Dead Fish , Pete Crowther
  22. 22. Upon The Fish In The Water , John Bunyan
  23. 23. Fish And Water , Raveendran N.V.
  24. 24. A Golden Fish , ONElia AVElar
  25. 25. To A Fish , James Henry Leigh Hunt
  26. 26. A Waltz Wave: A Fish Jumps , Lillian Susan Thomas
  27. 27. A Fish In The Sea Of Tears , Asif Andalib
  28. 28. Fish Dialogues , Ahmad Shiddiqi
  29. 29. Fish ‘n Chips - Food Of Life , Mark R Slaughter
  30. 30. It's Like Shooting Fish In A Barrel Call.. , Joe Rosochacki
  31. 31. Fish Pond At 60 , William F Dougherty
  32. 32. 2011 Global Fish Extinction Crisis , Terence George Craddock (Spe ..
  33. 33. Y/ Flying Fish , Aufie Zophy
  34. 34. If You Give Someone A Fish , Ahmad Shiddiqi
  35. 35. Fish , Larry Levis
  36. 36. 'A True Fish Story' , Linda Winchell
  37. 37. Fish Food (An Obituary To Hart Crane) , John Brooks Wheelwright
  38. 38. A Do-Before-Danger Fish , Rajaram Ramachandran
  39. 39. ! ! ! The Fish Travels Home , Raveendran N.V.
  40. 40. Swimming Fish , cherassery damodaran binish
  41. 41. Fish Or Cut Bait , Lillian Susan Thomas
  42. 42. Does A Fish Go Pee? , Cathe Ferguson
  43. 43. The Carpenter Fish , Diane Hine
  44. 44. Fish Food , John Wheelwright
  45. 45. Fish For Dinner , Herbert Nehrlich
  46. 46. Drunken Dancing Fish , Smoky Hoss
  47. 47. {{{ A Special Fish For Me? }}} , Linda I. Weischedel
  48. 48. .910. The Fish Bar , David Threadgold
  49. 49. Fish Out Of Water , Adryan Rotica
  50. 50. Puffer Fish , Sidi J. Mahtrow
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