Monday, January 30, 2012

The Fish

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The Fish


Many literary devices are used in the poem “The Fish” by Elizabeth Bishop that help convey the author’s meaning. “The Fish” is about a person who rents a boat, goes out fishing, and catches a fish. The poem is based mostly on observations made about the fish. The author uses imagery, figurative language, and unusual diction to present the reader with a picture of the events that are taking place. Overall, using literary devices, the author leaves the reader with an enriched understanding of fish.


Much of the poem “The Fish” revolves around imagery. The author presents rich description that appeals to the reader’s senses and gives them an elevated understanding of what is happening. For example, in lines 15 through 1, the author says, “He was speckled with barnacles, fine rosettes of lime, and infested with tiny white sea � lice, and underneath two or three rags of green hung down.” These lines appeal to the reader’s sense of sight. Through these four lines alone, you can already get a very clear, concise picture of what the fish looks like. At the end of the poem, in lines 6 through 75, the author uses intense imagery to build up to a climax in line 74 when it says, “Until everything was rainbow, rainbow, rainbow!” Then, there is no imagery in the ending line. The author uses a lot of imagery to leave readers with firm pictures in their mind after having read the poem.


The author uses a lot of figurative language in the poem “The Fish.” If a reader does not have a definite picture of what something looks like, many objects in the poem are compared to other, more familiar objects. For example, in lines through 14, the author compares the skin of a fish to strips of ancient wallpaper, dark brown with shapes like full-bloom roses, using similes. This very helpful because if the reader can picture an object, he or she has a better chance in seeing what is happening and decoding the meaning of the poem. It is good that the author did not say that the fish skin was like wallpaper and stop there. She told readers exactly which kind, color and age of the wallpaper, presenting a better picture of the fish skin. In lines 5 � 60, the author says “Like medals with their ribbons frayed and wavering,” and compares the medals to the fishhooks protruding from the fish’s mouth. A simile is used to convey this. This simile contributes to the imagery found throughout the poem, and helps the reader envision the fish hooks in a new way as medals. The similes contain descriptive words that appeal to the reader’s senses as imagery does. There are many similes found throughout the poem “The Fish” that make the poem more vivid and more enjoyable.


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There is an unusual word choice in the poem “The Fish.” The reader may not understand some of the unusual vocabulary, and must look it up. Finding out the meanings of unknown words helps the reader understand the context and after reading the poem, the reader goes away having learned something new. For example, in lines 6 and 7 it says, “He held a grunting weight, battered and venerable.” The word “venerable” sticks out. If the word were looked up, the reader would discover that it means “commanding respect by age or dignity.” Then, this meaning could be related to the next few lines about wallpaper that explain the extent of the age of the fish. This means that the fish should be respected even more, since he is extremely old. Even in the first line, “I caught a tremendous fish,” the word “tremendous” sticks out. This word is used to explain the huge size, ferocity and beauty of the fish. The effect of this word is to introduce the style of the writing and briefly to describe the fish. Through the whole poem, the unusual diction makes for a more enjoyable, informational reading.


The poem “The Fish” makes use of many different poetry techniques that help the reader envision the events taking place almost as if they are the ones experiencing the action. The imagery makes the action more real using words that appeal to one or more of the senses. The similes give the reader a better picture of objects, because in a comparison, you are able to apply the characteristics of a known object to an unknown one and have a better mental picture of what the unknown object looks like. Unusual word choice allows the reader to gain knowledge if they take the time to look up words they do not know and apply them to the poem. Overall, the use of these poetry techniques makes the poem enjoyable and interesting to read and leaves readers with a mental picture.





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