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 - 11,273 Points Sylva-onyema Uba (2/19/2017 11:55:00 PM)

    ...rainbow! rainbow!

    Well written and expressed piece of poem.

    Sylva (Report) Reply

    7 person liked.
    5 person did not like.
  • Bronze Star - 2,227 Points Bill Grace (2/15/2017 11:41:00 PM)

    If i am correct she publishes only 100 poems but (Lordy!) the first 3 i have read take this poet's breath away. Bill Grace (Report) Reply

  • Gold Star - 36,789 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

    Gold Star - 36,789 Points Spock The Vegan (5/7/2017 10:28:00 AM)

    After re-reading it, I think it happened. Not sure why I said that. Trying to be facetious?

    Gold Star - 96,840 Points Kim Barney (5/7/2017)

    Personally, I DO believe it happened. I attended a poetry seminar today where this very poem was read by a professor of a local university. Everyone there was blown away by this poem. I couldn't wait to get home and boot up my computer to read it again on Poem Hunter.
    A fantastic poem.

Read all 17 comments »

Poems About Fish

  1. 1. The Fish , Elizabeth Bishop
  2. 2. The Fish , Marianne Moore
  3. 3. We Fish , Herman Melville
  4. 4. Our Biggest Fish , Eugene Field
  5. 5. The Fish , William Butler Yeats
  6. 6. To A Fish , James Henry Leigh Hunt
  7. 7. Fish And Shadow , Ezra Pound
  8. 8. Fish ‘n Chips - Food Of Life , Mark R Slaughter
  9. 9. Yes, The Fish Music , Richard Brautigan
  10. 10. What Fish Feel , Matsuo Basho
  11. 11. Fish Crier , Carl Sandburg
  12. 12. The Goose Fish , Howard Nemerov
  13. 13. I Laugh When I Hear That The Fish In The.. , Kabir
  14. 14. A Mullet Is Not A Fish? ? , Sidi J. Mahtrow
  15. 15. Caring For A Dead Fish , Pete Crowther
  16. 16. My Shoes Taste Like Fish And Chips (A Po.. , Jojoba Mansell
  17. 17. Fish , Keki Daruwalla
  18. 18. A Fish Answers , James Henry Leigh Hunt
  19. 19. Live Like Fish , gajanan mishra
  20. 20. Fish, The , Rupert Brooke
  21. 21. Puffer Fish , Sidi J. Mahtrow
  22. 22. I'Ll Eat The Fish , Lawrence S. Pertillar
  23. 23. Y/ Flying Fish , Aufie Zophy
  24. 24. Flying Fish , Gert Strydom
  25. 25. The Sea’s Fish , Naveed Akram
  26. 26. Fish Bowl , Hardik Vaidya
  27. 27. I Am A Fish! , Arta Krasniqi
  28. 28. The Snake And The Fish , Asif Andalib
  29. 29. Blue Fish , Edward Kofi Louis
  30. 30. Remembering A Friend Through The Fish , RIC S. BASTASA
  31. 31. If You Give Someone A Fish , Ahmad Shiddiqi
  32. 32. The Fish , Rupert Brooke
  33. 33. Fish Out Of Water , Adryan Rotica
  34. 34. The Lung Fish , Banjo Paterson
  35. 35. World Sea Fish Extinction Crisis , Terence George Craddock (Spe ..
  36. 36. Aquarium Fish , Padraic Colum
  37. 37. Carps - Fish Of Luck , john tiong chunghoo
  38. 38. The Caesuras Of A Fish Tailed Palm Tree , Robert Rorabeck
  39. 39. 'Super Sweet Angel Fish' , Dr.V.K. Kanniappan
  40. 40. Fish And Mind Haiku , john tiong chunghoo
  41. 41. The Fish In The Fishbowl... , RIC S. BASTASA
  42. 42. A Fish Bone In Your Throat... , RIC S. BASTASA
  43. 43. Who Taught The Little Fish To Swim , Juan Olivarez
  44. 44. A Fish Story , Edwina Reizer
  45. 45. Fish Pond , Edward Kofi Louis
  46. 46. Fish , Larry Levis
  47. 47. Fish Wish! , Michael Gale
  48. 48. Haiku - What The Fish Feel , john tiong chunghoo
  49. 49. Surf For Other Fish , Lawrence S. Pertillar
  50. 50. English Fish And Chips , Marilyn Lott
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