Appreciating Nature: an Analysis of Elizabeth Bishop's The Fish

download print

About this sample

About this sample


Words: 559 |

Page: 1|

3 min read

Published: Feb 12, 2024

Words: 559|Page: 1|3 min read

Published: Feb 12, 2024

Table of contents

  1. Introduction
  2. Main body
  3. Conclusion
  4. Work Cited


In Elizabeth Bishop's poem "The Fish," the poetess showcases her ability to observe and appreciate the beauty of nature through the act of catching a fish. Bishop's unique literary traits, such as her vivid descriptive poetry and her objectivity, allow her to convey her experience and convey her moral concerns. This paper will delve into the specific literary techniques employed by Bishop in "The Fish" and analyze their impact on the poem.

'Why Violent Video Games Shouldn't Be Banned'?

Main body

One of the most notable aspects of "The Fish" is Bishop's meticulous attention to detail. Through her descriptions, she evokes sympathy for the fish and highlights its vulnerability. For instance, the poetess emphasizes that the fish did not fight, instantly evoking compassion from the reader (Bishop 5-6). Furthermore, Bishop uses similes to depict the fish's worn appearance, comparing its skin to "ancient wallpaper" and its shape to "full-brown roses stained and lost through age" (Bishop 10-11, 14-15). These vivid images present a fish that is old and weary, devoid of the strength to fight for survival.

As the poem progresses, Bishop's discovery of the fish's age leads her to notice other aspects of the fish's existence. She observes the presence of "white sea-lice" on the fish and describes its gills as "fresh and crisp and filled with blood" (Bishop 19, 25). Bishop's observation extends to the fish's eyes, which she compares to her own but notes that they are "far larger" (Bishop 36). Through these descriptions, Bishop begins to view the fish as an equal individual, capable of captivating her admiration.

The poetess's admiration for the fish grows as she notices the fish's battle scars. Bishop describes the fish's lines as "medals with their ribbons frayed and wavering" and likens its jaw to a "five-haired beard of wisdom" (Bishop 61-64). These lines symbolize victory and survival, representing the fish as a wise warrior who has overcome numerous challenges. The fish's resilience evokes respect and admiration from the poetess, further emphasizing its individuality.

Interestingly, Bishop's tone shifts from sympathy to admiration when she imagines the pain the fish endures. The fish is no longer a defeated animal but a creature that has triumphed over adversity. This change in perception also alters the poetess's view on catching the fish. Initially, she sees it as a tremendous feat, but after examining the fish, her perspective shifts. Bishop describes "victory fill[ing] up the little rented boat," indicating that she finds accomplishment not in capturing the fish but in appreciating its existence (Bishop 66-67).

Bishop's encounter with the fish ultimately leads her to release it. The symbol of the rainbow plays a significant role in this decision. The rainbow represents rapture and positive emotions, creating the perfect backdrop for the poetess to release her sense of accomplishment and embrace awe. Her newfound appreciation for the fish's resilience and beauty compels her to let it go, recognizing the importance of preserving its life and freedom.

Get a custom paper now from our expert writers.


"The Fish" exemplifies Elizabeth Bishop's prowess as a poet. Through her use of metaphor, symbolism, personification, and imagery, Bishop effectively conveys her experience of observing the beauty of nature through the act of catching a fish. The poem's vivid descriptions and the poetess's ability to evoke empathy and admiration from the reader make it a powerful exploration of moral concerns and the complexity of human interaction with the natural world.

Work Cited

  1. Bishop, Elizabeth. "The Fish." Contemporary American Poetry: Boston: Houghton Mifflin Company, 1980.
Image of Dr. Charlotte Jacobson
This essay was reviewed by
Dr. Charlotte Jacobson

Cite this Essay

Appreciating Nature: An Analysis of Elizabeth Bishop’s The Fish. (2024, February 12). GradesFixer. Retrieved February 29, 2024, from
“Appreciating Nature: An Analysis of Elizabeth Bishop’s The Fish.” GradesFixer, 12 Feb. 2024,
Appreciating Nature: An Analysis of Elizabeth Bishop’s The Fish. [online]. Available at: <> [Accessed 29 Feb. 2024].
Appreciating Nature: An Analysis of Elizabeth Bishop’s The Fish [Internet]. GradesFixer. 2024 Feb 12 [cited 2024 Feb 29]. Available from:
Keep in mind: This sample was shared by another student.
  • 450+ experts on 30 subjects ready to help
  • Custom essay delivered in as few as 3 hours
Write my essay

Still can’t find what you need?

Browse our vast selection of original essay samples, each expertly formatted and styled


Where do you want us to send this sample?

    By clicking “Continue”, you agree to our terms of service and privacy policy.


    Be careful. This essay is not unique

    This essay was donated by a student and is likely to have been used and submitted before

    Download this Sample

    Free samples may contain mistakes and not unique parts


    Sorry, we could not paraphrase this essay. Our professional writers can rewrite it and get you a unique paper.



    Please check your inbox.

    We can write you a custom essay that will follow your exact instructions and meet the deadlines. Let's fix your grades together!


    Get Your
    Personalized Essay in 3 Hours or Less!

    We can help you get a better grade and deliver your task on time!
    • Instructions Followed To The Letter
    • Deadlines Met At Every Stage
    • Unique And Plagiarism Free
    Order your paper now