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

  • elizabETTHHHH 9/11/2020 3:18:00 PM


    1 person liked.
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  • Masefield.Susan 4/23/2020 5:07:00 AM

    4677 Whitney Ct Reply

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  • Spenser.Hebe 4/17/2020 3:19:00 PM

    4093 W Dawson Ave Reply

    1 person liked.
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  • Elizabeth Bishop 3/24/2020 11:32:00 PM

    Who wrote this? Who was it! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! Reply

    0 person liked.
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  • gordon ramsey 2/18/2020 1:16:00 PM

    this poem is literally about some chick catching a fish and releasing it. tf Reply

    3 person liked.
    1 person did not like.
  • lexie 1/16/2020 10:44:00 PM

    lots of detail about the fish. Reply

    6 person liked.
    1 person did not like.
  • mr. meme big boy 1/10/2020 2:52:00 PM

    why am i reading this smh -_- Reply

    2 person liked.
    3 person did not like.
  • Maria 12/5/2019 3:56:00 PM

    Such vivid explanations are entertaining to read. Reply

    3 person liked.
    1 person did not like.
  • Elizabeth 10/1/2019 7:28:00 AM

    What happened to the boat Reply

    2 person liked.
    1 person did not like.
  • 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 Reply

    2 person liked.
    1 person did not like.
Read all 45 comments »
Fish Poems
  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. A Wreath To The Fish
    Nancy Willard
  6. 6. The Goose Fish
    Howard Nemerov
  7. 7. Fish, The
    Rupert Brooke
  8. 8. Fish Crier
    Carl Sandburg
  9. 9. A Fish Answers
    James Henry Leigh Hunt
  10. 10. The Fish
    Rupert Brooke
  11. 11. I Laugh When I Hear That The Fish In The..
  12. 12. The Lung Fish
    Banjo Paterson
  13. 13. Yes, The Fish Music
    Richard Brautigan
  14. 14. The Fish
    Marianne Moore
  15. 15. A Mullet Is Not A Fish? ?
    Sidi J. Mahtrow
  16. 16. Fish And Shadow
    Ezra Pound
  17. 17. Fish
    Keki Daruwalla
  18. 18. Aquarium Fish
    Padraic Colum
  19. 19. We Fish
    Herman Melville
  20. 20. Fish
    Moniza Alvi
  21. 21. Fish And Water
    Raveendran N.V.
  22. 22. Upon The Fish In The Water
    John Bunyan
  23. 23. Caring For A Dead Fish
    Pete Crowther
  24. 24. To A Fish
    James Henry Leigh Hunt
  25. 25. A Fish In The Sea Of Tears
    Asif Andalib
  26. 26. Does A Fish Go Pee?
    Cathe Ferguson
  27. 27. Fish Dialogues
    Ahmad Shiddiqi
  28. 28. Fish ‘n Chips - Food Of Life
    Mark R Slaughter
  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. Y/ Flying Fish
    Aufie Zophy
  32. 32. If You Give Someone A Fish
    Ahmad Shiddiqi
  33. 33. A Golden Fish
    ONElia AVElar
  34. 34. A Waltz Wave: A Fish Jumps
    Lillian Susan Thomas
  35. 35. 'A True Fish Story'
    Linda Winchell
  36. 36. Fish Food (An Obituary To Hart Crane)
    John Brooks Wheelwright
  37. 37. What The Fish-Man Said
    John Carter Brown
  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. One Fish Two Fish Red Fish Blue Fish
    Theodor Seuss Geisel
  42. 42. Fish Pond At 60
    William F Dougherty
  43. 43. Fish For Dinner
    Herbert Nehrlich
  44. 44. Drunken Dancing Fish
    Smoky Hoss
  45. 45. The Carpenter Fish
    Diane Hine
  46. 46. {{{ A Special Fish For Me? }}}
    Linda I. Weischedel
  47. 47. Fish
    Larry Levis
  48. 48. .910. The Fish Bar
    David Threadgold
  49. 49. Sign Of The Fish
    Ted Sheridan
  50. 50. A Net, Fish And The Ocean
    nimal dunuhinga

New Fish Poems

  1. Another Kettle Of Fish, Robert Rittel
  2. A B Cchallenge(Me, My Son And The Fish)-.., Bharati Nayak
  3. A B Cchallenge(Me, My Son And The Fish) .., Bharati Nayak
  4. Singapore's Underground Man (Part 2), Jonathan Lee
  5. Like A Fish, Mark Heathcote
  6. Why Things Happen, Clive Culverhouse
  7. Anima Mundi, Mark Heathcote
  8. THE FISH, Deryn Rees-Jones
  9. The Man Who Acted As A God, Alexandre Nodopaka
  10. My Beautiful Fish, Paula Glynn

Fish Poems

  1. The Fish

    ALTHOUGH you hide in the ebb and flow Of the pale tide when the moon has set, The people of coming days will know About the casting out of my net, And how you have leaped times out of mind Over the little silver cords, And think that you were hard and unkind, And blame you with many bitter words.

  2. What Fish Feel

    What fish feel, birds feel, I don't know-- the year ending. Translated by Robert Hass

  3. A Wreath To The Fish

    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?"

  4. Our Biggest Fish

    When in the halcyon days of old, I was a little tyke, I used to fish in pickerel ponds for minnows and the like; And oh, the bitter sadness with which my soul was fraught When I rambled home at nightfall with the puny string I'd caught! And, oh, the indignation and the valor I'd display When I claimed that all the biggest fish I'd caught had got away! Sometimes it was the rusty hooks, sometimes the fragile lines, And many times the treacherous reeds would foil my just designs; But whether hooks or lines or reeds were actually to blame, I kept right on at losing all the monsters just the same-- I never lost a little fish--yes, I am free to say It always was the biggest fish I caught that got away. And so it was, when later on, I felt ambition pass From callow minnow joys to nobler greed for pike and bass; I found it quite convenient, when the beauties wouldn't bite And I returned all bootless from the watery chase at night, To feign a cheery aspect and recount in accents gay How the biggest fish that I had caught had somehow got away. And really, fish look bigger than they are before they are before they're caught-- When the pole is bent into a bow and the slender line is taut, When a fellow feels his heart rise up like a doughnut in his throat And he lunges in a frenzy up and down the leaky boat! Oh, you who've been a-fishing will indorse me when I say That it always is the biggest fish you catch that gets away! 'T 'is even so in other things--yes, in our greedy eyes The biggest boon is some elusive, never-captured prize; We angle for the honors and the sweets of human life-- Like fishermen we brave the seas that roll in endless strife; And then at last, when all is done and we are spent and gray, We own the biggest fish we've caught are those that got away. I would not have it otherwise; 't is better there should be Much bigger fish than I have caught a-swimming in the sea; For now some worthier one than I may angle for that game-- May by his arts entice, entrap, and comprehend the same; Which, having done, perchance he'll bless the man who's proud to say That the biggest fish he ever caught were those that got away.