Response to The Fish By Elizabeth Bishop Essay

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Response to "The Fish" By Elizabeth Bishop I chose to respond to Elizabeth Bishop's "The Fish" because the poem seems so simple, yet there is much to gather from reading it. This is a narrative poem told in the first person about a woman who catches a fish on a rented boat and, after staring at him for a while, decides to throw him back. The narrator of this poem goes through a series of stages in which she is at first detached from the fish, then intrigued by him, and then finally sympathetic towards him. In the very first lines of Bishop's poem, the narrator catches the fish and treats him as such. "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"…show more content…
As she moves towards his head, she notices that there are 5 different fishing lines dangling from his lip. She refers to these threads as being "like medals with their ribbons / frayed and wavering, / a five-haired beard of wisdom / trailing from his aching jaw" (Bishop 666). She has admiration for this fish; this "tremendous fish" who has fought at least 5 battles with fishing poles of the enemy, coming out victorious each time. At the same time however, she talks of triumph: "I stared and stared / and victory filled up / the little rented boat" (Bishop 666). I do not know if she is feeling her own victory from catching the fish who had defeated so many others or the victory of the actual fish because he had been able to do so. Either way, she gains the utmost respect for this battle-worn creature of the sea. As she starts to see the beauty in this old soldier, she notices the likenesses between him and the boat she has rented. She sees that it too, with its "rusted engine" and "sun-cracked thwarts", has been worn by time (Bishop 666). In a single moment of lucidity, when everything around her is shouting "rainbow, rainbow, rainbow!" she lets the fish go (Bishop 667). This is a great end to Bishop's poem because by this point, the reader also gains respect and sympathy for the old fish and hopes that he will ultimately be set free. The way Bishop wrote
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