Nancy Willard

A Wreath To The Fish - Poem by Nancy Willard

Who is this fish, still wearing its wealth,
flat on my drainboard, dead asleep,
its suit of mail proof only against the stream?
What is it to live in a stream,
to dwell forever in a tunnel of cold,
never to leave your shining birthsuit,
never to spend your inheritance of thin coins?
And who is the stream, who lolls all day
in an unmade bed, living on nothing but weather,
singing, a little mad in the head,
opening her apron to shells, carcasses, crabs,
eyeglasses, the lines of fisherman begging for
news from the interior-oh, who are these lines
that link a big sky to a small stream
that go down for great things:
the cold muscle of the trout,
the shinning scrawl of the eel in a difficult passage,
hooked-but who is this hook, this cunning
and faithful fanatic who will not let go
but holds the false bait and the true worm alike
and tears the fish, yet gives it up to the basket
in which it will ride to the kitchen
of someone important, perhaps the Pope
who rejoices that his cook has found such a fish
and blesses it and eats it and rises, saying,
"Children, what is it to live in the stream,
day after day, and come at last to the table,
transfigured with spices and herbs,
a little martyr, a little miracle;
children, children, who is this fish?"

Comments about A Wreath To The Fish by Nancy Willard

  • Fabrizio Frosini (7/20/2016 7:00:00 AM)

    'A Wreath To The Fish' ('una ghirlanda per il pesce') ..I like also the title.. ;) (Report) Reply

    10 person liked.
    0 person did not like.
  • Edward Kofi Louis (7/20/2016 2:44:00 AM)

    In a tumnel of cold! Thanks for sharing. (Report) Reply

  • Susan Williams (7/20/2016 1:55:00 AM)

    This is the kind of writing style that I crave- -it has such texture and flow and depth and imagery and excellence! (Report) Reply

  • Mohammed Asim Nehal (12/14/2015 1:01:00 PM)

    Wonderful oem, I liked it. A thought provoking poem indeed. (Report) Reply

  • (6/27/2015 7:41:00 AM)

    Really enjoyed the imagery in this one. (Report) Reply

  • (6/26/2014 8:05:00 AM) interesting and thought provoking have interesting lives...happy birthday nancy! (Report) Reply

  • Brian Jani (5/17/2014 3:20:00 PM)

    Nancy Nicely layed flows nicely.well done (Report) Reply

  • (5/23/2007 6:17:00 PM)

    Water Walker, a collection of Willard's poems has one I come back to again again-her 'Foxes Fall to St. Francis' from the poems with title borrowed from sport page headlines.

    Other favorites from that book: In Praise of Unwashed Feet and Magician's Wives.

    I wish there were more of her poems.

    Jacob Russell
    (Report) Reply

  • (12/16/2005 4:01:00 PM)


Read all 9 comments »
User Rating:
3,0 / 5 ( 52 votes ) 9

Read this poem in other languages

This poem has not been translated into any other language yet.

I would like to translate this poem »

word flags

What do you think this poem is about?

Read poems about / on: fish, children, weather, sky, fishing, child, rose

Poem Submitted: Monday, January 13, 2003

Famous Poems

  1. Still I Rise
    Maya Angelou
  2. The Road Not Taken
    Robert Frost
  3. If You Forget Me
    Pablo Neruda
  4. Dreams
    Langston Hughes
  5. Annabel Lee
    Edgar Allan Poe
  6. If
    Rudyard Kipling
  7. Stopping By Woods On A Snowy Evening
    Robert Frost
  8. Do Not Stand At My Grave And Weep
    Mary Elizabeth Frye
  9. I Do Not Love You Except Because I Love You
    Pablo Neruda
  10. Television
    Roald Dahl
[Report Error]