Elizabeth Bishop

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The recurring theme of discovering beauty and wonder in mundane objects in Elizabeth Bishop’s “The Fish”, “The Bight”, and “Sandpiper” is illustrated by the descriptions of the creature/ place she chose. Instead of assimilating to social conventions and adapting the view most people have, Bishop captures the unique beauty she sees from the minute details of life.

In “The Fish”, Bishop used the metaphor of a warrior imagery to form visual images of the fish. It has evaded capture many times before from lines 60-61 describing the hooks and the lines “still crimped from the strain and snap// when it broke and when he got away”. The use of personification here brings to mind the terrible struggles the fish has gone through to as well as the strength and determination the fish seemingly has in order to live.

The admiration the speaker has for the fish is also shown with a simile in lines 62-64: “like medals with their ribbons// frayed and wavering// a five-haired beard of wisdom”. It furthers of the imagery of the fish being an soldier or a general who has received accolades for his actions of great bravery, again reinforcing how the speaker now sees the originally “battered and venerable and homely” fish in lines 8-9 as a beautiful creature worthy of praise and respect. The speaker had a moment of epiphany at the very end of the poem and decided to “let the fish go” to live another day because she ultimately sees beauty in a seemingly ordinary creature.

In “Sandpiper”, the focus of the entire poem is on the actions of the “obsessed”, “focused” and “preoccupied” bird. Elizabeth Bishops once again sees beauty through the vision and perspective of the bird which only has its mind on the particular grain of sand it is searching for. The repetition in line 17, “looking for something, something, something” shows the intensity of the bird and its dedication to find the perfect grain of sand.

The colour imagery used to describe the sand in lines 19-20: “the...
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