Poetry has multiple meanings and they are usually not obvious. Elizabeth Bishop, the author of "The Fish," hides a variety of poetic meanings in her poem. "The Fish" seems to be a simple poem about a speaker who catches a fish, ridicules it, and lets it go. This poem includes numerous amounts of symbolism, denotation, assonance, diction, irony, and similes. Bishop tells the classic fishing story with a slight twist. The poem is an interaction with nature which reveals the power and beauty of the outdoors. .
The one type of poetic tool used is assonance. The first example is "He hadn"t fought at all" and "He hung grunting weight" (6-7). Bishop uses this as an odd language to describe a normal experience. "His brown skin hung in strips" (10) is also the same as the previous two lines using odd language to describe a seemingly experience. She also echoes the word hung in lines seven and ten to enhance the effect of assonance in these lines. One other form occurs in line fourteen when the author tells of the shapes of full-blown roses. The speaker's previous description has made the fish sound almost ugly, but the thought of roses gives it a type of beauty. "Rags of green weed hung down" (21) is the final example of assonance in the poem. This is used to remind the reader of the unattractiveness of the fish. Even though this describes the speaker's fishing line, it is still associated with the fish. Another poetic tool used by Bishop is diction. She begins the poem with "I caught a tremendous fish" (1). The word tremendous can have multiple meanings, but in this case it is used to describe the speaker's response to this fish. One other form of denotation occurs in line forty-nine when Bishop states "if you could call it a lip." This suggests that there could possibly be a deeper meaning to this work. .
Imagery is also used in this poem quite often. In lines sixteen and seventeen Bishop states "He was speckled with barnacles, fine rosettes of lime.