Appreciation of the Natural World in Elizabeth Bishop's “The Fish” “The Fish” is one of the most well-known poems of the accomplished American poet Elizabeth Bishop (1911-1979). The poem itself is neither overly complex nor difficult, but instead presents itself in a straightforward fashion using clear and simple images and only a few abstract concepts. Its basic theme appears to be about individual appreciation of the natural world, seen through the unexpected and original point of view of someone contemplating a recently caught fish. The apparent or superficial subject of the poem is the simple act of a lone narrator relating a short anecdote about catching a fish, which is made clear from the very beginning: “I caught a tremendous fish...The end:
.....nder from the fish on the line. When the attention returns to the fish suddenly in the final line of the poem, then, the effect is even more intense and unexpected: “And I let the fish go” (line 76). This sudden turnaround is somehow satisfying, and looking back on the earlier parts of the poem one feels that it was the inevitable conclusion to the anecdote. As a whole, “The Fish” provides a very integrated and thorough little narrative tale, a story built up out of seemingly disconnected pieces of vivid visual description and a few scattered anthropomorphic metaphors that add up to a more powerful whole by the end. Work Cited Bishop, Elizabeth. “The Fish.” In Elizabeth Bishop: The Complete Poems 1927-1979. London: Chatto & Windus 2004.