Commentary on Grace Chua's Poem: (love song, with two goldfish)

Topics: Stanza, Metaphor, Sex Pages: 2 (781 words) Published: April 17, 2014
“(love song, with two goldfish)” Commentary

“(love song, with two goldfish)”, by Grace Chua, is a humorous take on the kind of stereotypical romance that is often represented in popular music. In Chua’s version of the love song romance, goldfish seem to replace actual humans which gives her an opportunity to poke gentle fun at the genre as well as use some particularly fishy clichés and puns. In the poem we meet two young lovers who seem to be hitting it off. The male of the pair makes the first move and the female responds to his advances. He makes promises and plans but before long (the fourth stanza), she loses interest and he is left in despair. In the last stanza we learn, through yet another common turn of phrase, that she wanted more from life than he could give her. While the poem features witty wordplay, a light, humorous tone and a visually creative use of parentheses, the central idea, that love can be undermined by limited circumstances and a desire for broader life-experience, is a serious one that leaves the reader in a solemn, reflective place.

Chua’s use of puns is the first thing that strikes the reader. In the first stanza the male is described as a “drifter, always/ floating around her” (1, 2), which is a reasonable metaphor until you get to his desire that she sing “the scales” (4) and give him the “fish eye” (5). Then you remember the odd title and the notion that goldfish somehow play a part in this love story. Suddenly the fishbowl comes into view and any hope of taking this love story seriously is off. It is a “love song”, after all. The “fish eyes” are repeated and joined by “kissy lips” (8, 9). By the end of the second stanza, she is “hooked”, and we realize that the love and fish metaphors are not actually new to us. “Hook, line and sinker” (11) is a metaphor familiar to anyone who has described someone falling for a “line”. At this point it is the reader who has fallen for Chua’s easy tone.

By the third paragraph...
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