Elizabeth Bishop, born in 1911, was a rather marginalized and obscure figure in the American literature even though she won the Pulitzer Award with her fellow poets Robert Lowell and Marianne Moore. She attained literally prominence just a few years before her death. Since then her prominent and critical reputation has changed and grown to a point of being considered as one of the best American poets in the twentieth century.
Bishop was always controlled and reticent in her verses unlike the other poets around her confessional poetry. Her style is characterized by meticulous and precise description of world. Her poems which are peculiarly lucid explore the struggles and dislocation belong somewhere in the world. Bishop, in her lifetime as a perfectionist produced 101 poems most of which are masterpieces that include the Fish.
Exploring the patterns that are created and developed by formal elements such as metaphors, tone, and image of the poem’s alliteration help us to deeply understand the meaning of the poem and the nuances which enrich that meaning. This formal reading of a poem is fundamental to the analysis of poetry. This includes allegory, assonance, irony and symbols which work in more than two ways: something in its original form or something that suggests a deeper meaning. It is crucial to know the difference between a metaphor and a symbol. Denotation and connotations should also be considered. This is because some words mean something else or have hidden meanings. For example in this poem, the word greasy is used to mean the dirt and oil in the water (Monteiro 150).
The poem, “The Fish” by Elizabeth Bishop is arguably a simple and complicated poem about a speaker that catches a fish, and then scrutinizes it before letting it go. The speaker at first explains that a fish is a relic which is a living diary associated with the physical layers of the sea
Cited: Bloom, Harold. Elizabeth Bishop. Cambridge : Infobase Publishing, 2009. Ellis, Jonathan. Art and Memory in the Work of Elizabeth Bishop. Farnham: Ashgate Publishing, 2006. McCabe, Susan. Elizabeth Bishop: Her Poetics of Loss. Pennsylvania: Penn State Press, 2010. Monteiro, George. Elizabeth Bishop in Brazil and After: A Poetic Career Transformed. North Carolina : McFarland, 2012. Pickard, Zachariah. Elizabeth Bishop 's Poetics of Description. Montreal: McGill-Queen 's Press, 2009.