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“The Fish,” by Elizabeth Bishop

September 2, 2010

This one is rainbow, rainbow, rainbow! And I let the fish go.

Hey, welcome here, Intro to Lit students!  And everyone else! Take a look around, a listen around.  Comment if you like.  I enjoy the conversation. Because of the new semester, it’s been a slow week so far here at the Feed, but normally I get three or four poems up each week.  If you want to be notified each time I do, I invite you to click “Subscribe to the Feed” over in the right-hand menus or at the bottom of the screen. Thanks for stopping by.

Bishop’s poem is in her Complete Poems, 1927-1979 (Farrar, Straus & Giroux, 1984).

6 Comments leave one →
  1. September 3, 2010 1:42 pm

    It must be nice to catch a fish worth letting go!

    No kidding, At McDonalds yesterday, there was a full table of older men and a few women. One of the men was telling a big fish story. I couldn’t hear well (and I tried not to listen), but as he talked, others were laughing and confirming his story. They were sitting around Mcbreakfast wrappers and drinking coffee, but I wondered if they would have rather been fishing or at least floating.

  2. September 23, 2010 2:38 pm

    I love the respect she gave this fish with her words.
    I like EB a lot, but I hadn’t come across this one before. Thanks for bringing it to my attention!



    • September 24, 2010 10:05 am

      Respect for sure! From that first great word choice, “tremendous” (what a ruinous decision it would have been to say, say, “awful” or “ginormous” or “whopper”!) and that “five-haired beard of wisdom,” to that last decisive action, letting it go.

      This is often a poem I think of when I start to wonder if paying quiet, sure attention to ordinary things can pay off for a writer. Or anyone, for that matter.

      Cheers, KP

  3. September 24, 2010 5:48 pm

    Wonderful reading! The poet delves into the being of the fish, and upon close investigation discovers its essence. In the end survival is granted. Inddeed, a great poet!

  4. June 8, 2011 8:35 pm

    This is awesome! The way he read it is amazing!

    • June 8, 2011 8:59 pm

      I appreciate that, Samantha, thanks! It’s a poem with such sure, sharp images and clear language that I think it would make anyone reading it seem sure and sharp and clear, too. 🙂


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