The Fish Poem

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Reading poetry is like trying to solve a puzzle. The foundation of all poetry is imagery: sight, sound, taste, touch and smell. By examining the imagery in a poem and looking for similarities and differences, the reader will discover the true meaning of the poem. When reading “The Fish” by Elizabeth Bishop and “Traveling through the Dark” by William Stafford, I noticed many similarities and differences. Both poems use a wounded or dead animal as a key symbol to reveal the underlying meaning of the poem. In each poem I noticed descriptive phrases and images about the environment around them. Each poem shares a connection with nature and describes their deeper understanding towards it. The theme is life and death in both “The Fish” and “Traveling …show more content…

While describing the fish, the speaker and the reader discover things which lead to a more subjective appreciation. Although the fish does not put up a fight, he continues to fight to breathe that "terrible oxygen." Upon catching the fish, the speaker describes it as "battered and venerable / and homely." She has respect for this battered fish and feels pity for its plain, unattractive look. This is the objective perspective becoming subjective and more personal. The speaker describes the fish 's skin as scales like armor rusted over time, "shapes like full-blown roses, stained and lost through age." She describes the fish like an old warrior or an old warship adorned with barnacles and sea weed. Realizing that this battered, rusted fish has battled to stay alive so many times, the speaker appreciates the fish 's perseverance and appreciation for life. Seeing the rainbow dispersed on the surface of the oil, the speaker translates this abundance of color to vitality and symbolic vibrancy with which she thinks the fish must have lived. The fish might look like old brown wallpaper but it has come to symbolize the fullness of life which is comparable to the fullness of colors in a …show more content…

Each poem was told from the first person point of view. Compassion was a tone I saw present in both “The Fish” and “Traveling Through the Dark.” Imagery is also a literary device both authors use throughout their poems. An example of images could be “I stood in the glare of the warm exhaust turning red” (Stafford 980). Another example is seen in “The fish” when the author states “here and there his brown skin hung in strips like ancient wallpaper.” (Bishop 754) These quotes show description in the imagery around them. For Stafford it would be him standing in the heat near his car while for Bishop it would be the great detail of the aging of the fish. Reading these poems was relaxing because the spacing and lines give a calm tone. However, in “The Fish” the tone went from detached, to great detail, and finally captivating at the end when the author refers to the fish as a rainbow. In “Traveling Through the Dark” there is not as much detail, but the man connects to the deer and its fawn just as the man connects with the fish in “The Fish.” Both poems have a theme of connectivity. Compassion towards nature is the main idea in both poems and with the line spacing and flow, both are relatively

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