In the “The Fish” by Elizabeth Bishop, mid-20th century American author, we learn that we can approach the world through facts and books, but the embrace of nature with our own sense cannot be measured. The tools in this poem used ti show the basic principles of literacy are tone, structure, and diction. Using all of these devices, Bishop explains her encounter with the beast of nature and her struggling to understand the world around her.
The poem’s structure is very clearly presented as being a free verse poem.
This poem almost feels like an extremely long description list of how amazing the fish is. The poem does contains a split structure. The first section of this free verse poem shows what the narrator expects of the fish and the other side of this poem uses extremely descriptive imagery to show how the speaker studies the fish in the fish’s natural habitat. The vivid imagery of the narrator adds to the structure length of the description of the fish.
Which makes for a weird structure being that the large majority of the poem is in one stanza. This poem is like having a shopping list for monsters “The 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” (Bishop) there’s detail and then there is admiration. The quote shows use more detail about the animal. The fish’s facial features are a result of what it looks to be past trauma, which the narrator seems to relate to as if she was this animal as a reflection of herself as a person.
Bishops’ diction and imagery that is used throughout the story are complementary. The words surrounding the story lead to a wider picture “the frightening gills, fresh and crisp with blood, that can cut so badly” (Bishop). The use of word choice here is quite strange the speaker is thinking about the gills, but also implying that this fish has claws that could cut her very badly. The narrator is always in shock of her catch of the day which leads her to use very descriptive words that make the audience feel as though she is the tipping point. Bishop does an amazing job describing her situation and her ongoing understanding with a Beaten and bruised animal.
Though the intense diction, the tone of this story make you feel sorry for the fish and giving a level of respect for the poor creature. Bishop related to the fish on a basic personal level “I looked into his eyes… …I admired his sullen face, the mechanism of his jaw” (Bishop). This level of respect and admiration lead her to releasing the creature. While this is happening, the reader falls into the same hole as the narrator. The reader begins to understand the fish’s situation “like the tipping of an object towards the light;” (bishop) his eyes shifting made it seem like this would be the last time he would see the glorious son accepting his fate and not fighting. The more the poet looks at the fish the more she sees, that she has won and everything was rainbow, rainbow, rainbow bishops final line really hits the readers hearts by just saying I let him go. This line isn’t to be sentimental for the reader but to show that the fish wasn’t a trophy or a prize but just a way to pass time in Florida.
In conclusion the diction, tone, and structure of this poem lead the reader to feel for the narrator and fish. While the diction influenced a wonderful tone for the reader, it falls short in structure being that it looks too much like a descriptive list. The narrator showed deep feeling for the fish as the story progressed. She felt as if a deep connection was made as they locked eyes, enough of a connection was made to where she had to step back and let the fish be free