What is "The Fish" about by Elizabeth Bishop?Why so many images about flowers in the poem?

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kwoo1213 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

This is one of my FAVORITE poems!  It is literally about a fish that the speaker in the poem has caught.  The speaker observes it carefully (studies it, really) and describes it in GREAT detail from head to toe.  The speaker notes its many hooks and "scars" from being caught so many times.  It still has hooks that have grown into its jaw.  It clearly is a faded, old fish that has been through much in its life.  It has faded to a brown, though, and much of its original color is gone due to its age.  The flower imagery is in the poem because despite its age and its rather unattractive appearance, the fish is still beautiful to the speaker, just as most people see flowers as beautiful.  Also, the speaker makes several references to rainbows, which are also beautiful, unlike what many would view the fish as being.  Rainbows are also God's promise that He would not flood the world again.

The speaker has respect and great admiration for the fish he/she has caught and shows the ultimate respect by throwing it back into the water to let it continue to live.  The speaker, unlike many fishermen might, has gained a new admiration and respect for this fish that has been through so much in its life.