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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

  • Rookie Elizabeth (10/1/2019 7:28:00 AM)

    What happened to the boat (Report) Reply

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  • Rookie damarra (9/17/2019 8:45:00 PM)

    Its about the life of a fish, the get away of the fish and the victory of getting away it kind of the life as a person that wears theirs losses as a victory to never forget what it takes to be free. Now at the end he knows that it is the end and that's why he didn't fight this time get away (Report) Reply

    0 person liked.
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  • Rookie Tanya (9/14/2019 6:02:00 PM)

    they did not said what happen to the boat. (Report) Reply

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