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The Fish
Poetry 2 Pages

The Fish


For Essay 1, write an explication of one of the assigned poems listed below.

"The Fish"

"A Blessing"

"My Papa's Waltz"

"Lady Lazarus"

"The Blue Bowl"

"Most Like an Arch This Marriage"

NOTE: The lessons in Unit 1 will walk you through how to write this essay. Carefuly review all the content first.

Unit 1 will cover, in detail, how to write an explication essay. In brief, "in an explication essay, you examine a work in much detail. Line by line, stanza by explain each part as fully as you can and show how the author's techniques produce your response. An explication is essentially a demonstration of your thorough understanding of a work" (Literature: The Human Experience 47).

An explication is an analysis of the poem. Please use the terminology for poems, such as stanza, speaker, symbol, metaphor, simile, diction (word choice) tone (happy, sad, serious, tragic, satirical etc...). The explication should also pay close attention to the figurative language, and it always helps to generally discuss the poem, focus on a theme, choose a favorite line and one that might not be strong or work for you in the poem. For example, why did you choose the line (both positive and negative)? Also, consider that sometimes, such as in "Lady Lazarus," the poet's life is quite relevant to the theme. Use the biographical information I provided....and other improve your understanding of the poets' lives and the influences that shaped their work.

For this particular essay, you will want to focus on the poetic techniques of diction, tone, image, and/or figurative language, speaker metaphor, simile, symbol, which we will also cover in this unit.

Your essay must be between 500 and 750 words and adhere to MLA formatting. It needs to quote directly from your chosen text for support, but it should not use any secondary research.

Remember that the explication essay should not just summarize the poem.

It needs to look at the different elements of poetry used and offer a detailed explanation of the poem that also addresses the poem's overall effect and meaning.

Please click here to view a sample essay. The link to the poem.


Title: The Fish
Length: 2 pages (550 Words)
Style: MLA


Explication of a Poem “The Fish”

            “The Fish” by Bishop is a popular poem. It mainly describes a fish that the narrator manages to capture, which she eventually frees, as seen in the last line of the poem. The poem starts with a title “The Fish” which is straightforward, just like the rest of the poem. The title is subject specific in relation to the content of the poem, thus providing no room for thinking about what it might allude to in reality. As such, the reader is in a position of understanding from the title in conjunction with the first line that the poem must communicate a message involving a fish in one way or the other. Something that is a bit interesting concerning the title is the use of the definite article “the.” The article automatically establishes an understanding that the subject is specific, something which later unravels as the poem unfolds.


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