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 - 8,525 Points Sylva-onyema Uba (2/19/2017 11:55:00 PM)

    ...rainbow! rainbow!

    Well written and expressed piece of poem.

    Sylva (Report) Reply

    0 person liked.
    0 person did not like.
  • Veteran Poet - 1,578 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 - 31,623 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

Read all 14 comments »

Poems About Fish

  1. 1. The Fish , Elizabeth Bishop
  2. 2. The Fish , William Butler Yeats
  3. 3. What Fish Feel , Matsuo Basho
  4. 4. The Goose Fish , Howard Nemerov
  5. 5. A Wreath To The Fish , Nancy Willard
  6. 6. The Fish , Marianne Moore
  7. 7. Our Biggest Fish , Eugene Field
  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. The Lung Fish , Banjo Paterson
  13. 13. Yes, The Fish Music , Richard Brautigan
  14. 14. We Fish , Herman Melville
  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. Aquarium Fish , Padraic Colum
  19. 19. Caring For A Dead Fish , Pete Crowther
  20. 20. Fish , Moniza Alvi
  21. 21. Fish And Water , Raveendran N.V.
  22. 22. Fish , Keki Daruwalla
  23. 23. Upon The Fish In The Water , John Bunyan
  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. Fish ‘n Chips - Food Of Life , Mark R Slaughter
  28. 28. A Fish In The Sea Of Tears , Asif Andalib
  29. 29. Fish Dialogues , Ahmad Shiddiqi
  30. 30. It's Like Shooting Fish In A Barrel Call.. , Joe Rosochacki
  31. 31. 2011 Global Fish Extinction Crisis , Terence George Craddock (Spe ..
  32. 32. Y/ Flying Fish , Aufie Zophy
  33. 33. What The Fish-Man Said , John Carter Brown
  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 Pond At 60 , William F Dougherty
  45. 45. Fish Food , John Wheelwright
  46. 46. Fish For Dinner , Herbert Nehrlich
  47. 47. Drunken Dancing Fish , Smoky Hoss
  48. 48. {{{ A Special Fish For Me? }}} , Linda I. Weischedel
  49. 49. A Fish In The River , Rajesh Thankappan
  50. 50. Fish Swim , Shaun Shane
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