Argumentative Essay on the Fish

The poem by Elizabeth Bishop is free verse based. It depicts ecological knowledge which results in acceptance of the relationship between non-living things and human beings.  This is among the best representatives and logical works by Elizabeth Bishop. She releases the fish back into the waters after scrutinizing its body and eyes. The speaker, therefore, realizes that she has been cruel to animals and releases the fish back to the seas. The realization of empathy is an indication of epiphany identified in the poem which describes the activity of the big fish being caught and it landing back to the waters. Perhaps, the poem appears to reflect one of the several fishing trips that Elizabeth Bishop attends while in Florida. In the first stanza, the poem extends the application of various poetic styles such as figurative language and explicit imagery in its setup. Elizabeth Bishop comes up with a captivating start of the poem and finishes it at the end in an exciting manner.

The poem develops a deceptive sense of utterance and observational accuracy in the way that it is presented.  There is a point in the poem that illustrates the fish being caught and let go which has initially been defeated by a minimum of five anglers. To some extent, the poem forces us to reflect on the other side of the boat and the surrounding waters. It is at this point that we realize the bearing into different structures which are lost due to mysterious engagement but accessed in language and creativity applied in the poem. For example, what does the poet catch along with the fish? Is it the poetry used? Is it the poem? The poet goes further to relate the boat with its rustiness nature. The poet enhances our sense of poise by projecting a sense of danger and a feeling of being right within its stanzas. The poet narrates it to a point where everything became ‘rainbow, rainbow, and rainbow.’ This illustrates the simplicity used in the poem by letting the fish go back to the waters.

The Fish begins as a simple narration describing the daily activities in fishing where the speaker illustrates catching fish all different sizes. However, commercial attitude is demonstrated as she starts with the description of body parts of the fish such as skin, gills, and jaws. She unskins the fish from the imagination of its commercial advantages, i.e. the body parts can be related to where are parts are solids for commercial gains

Elizabeth Bishop raised her doubts regarding the poem when she was writing to her friend, Moore. She wrote that she’s sending a trifle, “the fish.”  However, she explains how she is afraid that the big fish is dangerous and if not for Ernest Hemingway and Robert Frost, she would be on the last line and uncertain about the end.

Objective critique depicts the poem as positive over time. This is due to the brilliant lines applied in the poem stanzas and insights provided clearly by the poet.  This poem is therefore regarded as one of the best pieces of work that has been produced by Elizabeth Bishop. The incorporation of poetic style and ease behind the formation of the poem makes it a complete piece of work thus providing a sense of mystery to any reader of the poetry (Bishop, 1974).

A significant critic witnessed from the poem is the questioning such as the type of fish species that had been caught. The poet finally depicts large mouthed fish that survived on the floor of the sea.  Regardless of the species of the fish, the poet projects several powerful imageries which bring about several questions when reading the poem.

On reading the poem, it projects out to be the speaker to be a fisherperson.  Although you cannot tell the real gender behind the fishing activity, we identify the speaker as “her” due to the reason that the poet behind this narration is a woman. Moreover, the feature appears to be attentive due to the lots of details presented in the poem. Additionally, the sound effects used in the poet is more of a gentle breeze passing through the leaves rather than clanging of pans (Bishop 1974). The poet has used the rhythmic effects of “and” 24 times in the poem. The essence of doing is to ensure the flow of the poem and for simplicity. For example in the instance where she writes, “battered and vulnerable and homely.”  She would have used the conjunction ‘and’ once. However, she enjoys the simplicity brought about by the separation and its coordination of the conjunction “and.”

Elizabeth Bishop over uses the alliteration effects in the poem this creates a sonic effect when reading the poem such as, “skin in strips that can cut,” “Backed and Packed,” this also establishes a rhyme.  Although it appears next to each other thus direct and immediate sound effects, Bishop applies irony in the poem by illustrating a misconception from the bible superiority of man not being justified ability to conquer animals.  The fact is that we can only show superiority to animals in showing care and responsibility thus advantage by character traits.



Bishop, Elizabeth, and David Ishii. The fish. John Solid, 1974.