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An Analysis of Elizabeth Bishops The Fish Elizabeth Bishops The Fish is a narrative poem told in the first person about the confrontation between an amateur fisher--fishing in a rented boat Bishop 1212 all references to the poem are to this edition--and a tremendous battle-worn fish A poem that acknowledges awareness in nature The Fish although a narrative sings in the way we expect lyric poetry to sing for it is rich with imagery simile metaphor as well as rhetorical and sound devices I say confrontation but really the fish with evidence of having been caught at least five other times confronts the speaker whom Ill call a she for convenience only with its presence the fight has gone out of him The real confrontation is the speakers internal struggle should she keep the fish or throw it back In a moment of illumination she does the latter Bishops poem endows its fish with an awareness not very different from human awareness That this is a poem of twofold consciousness to use Robert Blys term for poems that grant nature an enormous amount of consciousness 51 is indicated by Bishops calling the fish a he instead of an it This is not mere personification for she treats the fish as a sentient being with feelings not unlike those of a human being She admires the fishs sullen face as his eyes tip toward the light light which for us humans would symbolize consciousness but which for the creature of the water symbolizes the unconsciousness of death The narrative may be summed up quickly for what happens happens more quickly than the time it takes to read the poem The speaker out in a battle-worn rented boat catches the old fish holds it half out of water with my hook fast in a corner of his mouth After examining the fish closely and sympathetically she has
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