Big Fish

The idea that crafting a good poem is like cooking with delicacy seems appealing to me. If we overuse a seasoning, a perfect dish might not live up to it’s maximum potential. Similarly, the imagery used in a poem can seem overwhelming. I never thought of this to be the case until I read “The Fish” by Elizabeth Bishop.

The diction used in this poem is colloquial. None of the language used within the poem is complex. The vocabulary that the poet uses throughout the poem does not require deep thought, as the connotations of the vocabulary are fairly straight forward.The poem uses a lot of visual imagery. throughout the poem, I am able to see a fish that acknowledges death. Elizabeth does a good job physically describing the fish, but a lot of the connotations used to describe the fish, such as:

of his shiny entrails,

and the pink swim-bladder

like a big peony (lines 30-33)

seem to overload my image. Furthermore, the frequency in which the visual imagery is changing makes it too fast for me to process.
Perhaps this is what the author is trying to show: that in the heat of a spectacular moment — catching a fish — there are many details to pay attention to, but ultimately the fisherman is overjoyed. While the fisherman might have been overjoyed, I was not. This poem reminded me of watching those fast-paced movies in which there is little dialogue and a lot of explosions. The visual imagery seemed overwhelming to me, like a dish that was over-seasoned.


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