The poem begins with a description of a baby pike, and we are given the impression that right from the very moment of birth this creature is in possession of some pretty chilling characteristics.
“…Killers from the egg…”
In the first three stanzas, the persona sets the scene and describes the voracious, ruthless nature of this fish. In these stanzas, the fish and its environment occupy the center of attention.
“Pike, three inches long, perfect
Pike in all parts, green tigering the gold.
Killers from the egg: the malevolent aged grin.
They dance on the surface among the flies.
Or move, stunned by their own grandeur,
Over a bed of emerald, silhouette
Of submarine delicacy and horror.
A hundred feet long in their world.
In ponds, under the heat-struck lily pads-
Gloom of their stillness:
Logged on last year's black leaves, watching upwards.
Or hung in an amber cavern of weeds…”
Further ahead, we see that the persona begins to expand towards the predatory nature of the pike, by vividly describing it as it moves along. At first, there are three fish present, but then suddenly, there are only two. The persona tells us that the pike grows larger in its size, when one of the fish disappears. This illustrates the fact that one of the pike has eaten one of its fellow fish. Then, the fish advances onwards to the next fish, its next prey, and gulps it down too, coldly and heartlessly, without feeling even the least bit upset over the fact that it ate its own kind.
“…Three we kept behind glass,
Jungled in weed: three inches, four,
And four and a half: red fry to them-
Suddenly there were two. Finally one
with a sag belly and the grin it was born with.
And indeed they spare nobody.
Two, six pounds each, over two feet long
High and dry and dead in the willow-herb-
One jammed past its gills down the other's gullet:
The outside eye stared: as a vice locks-
The same... [continues]
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