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In "The Fish" by Elizabeth Bishop, what attitude do the images of the rainbow of oil,...

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de-momma | Student, Undergraduate | eNotes Newbie

Posted October 20, 2010 at 1:52 AM via web

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In "The Fish" by Elizabeth Bishop, what attitude do the images of the rainbow of oil, the orange bailer, the suncracked thwarts convey?

Is this also what helps contribute to the fisherman releasing the fish?

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mwestwood | College Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

Posted October 20, 2010 at 11:33 AM (Answer #1)

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In Elizabeth Bishop's "The Fish," a meditative lyric, when the speaker of the poem sees that everything "is rainbow, rainbow," she begins to notice the beauty of other things around her.  This identification of beauty is what leads to her releasing of the fish.  Elizabeth Bishop's poetry is pictorial, reflecting on the self-referential aspect of art. Her use of the rainbow and the other images illustrate this aspect.

Beauty can come from destruction: the "old rusted engine, the bailer rusted orange, the sun-cracked thwarts" convey color and imitate the rainbow, which is the victory of both the fish and its capturer.  Thus, the speaker reads the world around her.  And, by doing so, she releases the fish, and lets go of the past.

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