Through imagery, the poet passion for the fish is further displayed when she describes the fish as wise and has “five-haired beard of wisdom trailing behind his aching jaw” (63-64), thereby commanding respect. Though it is common that it is mostly human beings who have wisdom, the fish too has wisdom revealing the poet’s good perception for the fish. At the poem comes to end, Bishop gives a comparison between her boat, which she has rented with that has leaking oil, rusted engine and could not be compared with the beauty of the nature as portrayed by the fish. It is the Bishop’s compassion for the fish that she releases it into the water. It is imperative to note that, in the beginning of the poem, the fish is displayed to be cold and can be compared to the boat’s standards. However, as the poem gains momentum, the poet comes to understand the beauty of the fish, sympathizes with its condition, and glorifies the fish.
It is therefore very true to argue that Elizabeth Bishop shows the theme of compassion through imagery. This is shown in the tone and words she uses to show her compassionate feeling for the fish. She is not contended with some of the harsh treatment the fish has to undergo in the hands of the man and as she puts it, fish meat is sweet and therefore, fish should be treated with kindness. The kindness treatment she advocates for is what is evidences the theme of compassion in her poem. She does not feel happy at all when she sees the fish get ill treatment from man and even the harsh words man refers to it.
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