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Word Count: 459
English Commentary At the Fish Houses is thought to be a poem Elizabeth Bishop wrote based on a visit to the home of her childhood Themes that arise in this poem are nostalgia childhood nature versus man knowledge and the unknown death and time The theme of nostalgia arises through the tone of the poem There is heavy use of visual imagery in lines one through twelve The atmosphere and imagery appeals to the readers senses in lines such as The air smells so strong of codfish and it makes ones nose run and ones eyes water The reader is then able to see the fish houses to be a familiar place through the tone of nostalgia and the theme is highlighted in this way The theme of childhood is also illuminated in this poem It is highlighted in the line The old man accepts a Lucky strike which is a personal reference to Bishops childhood memories Childhood is also interlinked with the theme of nostalgia and it gives the reader a strong sense of familiarity In the second stanza the writer mentions a seal One seal particularly I have seen here evening after evening The theme of nature versus man appears in this stanza The seal cannot leave his element of water and the writer cannot join the seal in total immersion Man and nature are kept apart in this way and then he would disappear Bishop uses images of the sea and the land to underline the theme of the unknown Cold dark deep and absolutely clear the clear gray icy water This theme is intertwined with the theme of death where Bishop tries to understand the unknown reason for death She uses tall firs and their prospect of waiting for Christmas as an example of death The structure of this poem has two long stanzas and is free verse The two long
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