Monday, March 21, 2011

The Fish by Elizabeth Bishop

I caught a tremendous fish
and held him beside the boat
half out of water, with my hook
fast in a corner of his mouth.
He didn't fight.
He hadn't fought at all.
He hung a grunting weight,
battered and venerable
and homely. Here and there
his brown skin hung in strips
like ancient wallpaper,
and its pattern of darker brown
was like wallpaper:
shapes like full-blown roses
stained and lost through age.
He was speckled and barnacles,
fine rosettes of lime,
and infested
with tiny white sea-lice,
and underneath two or three
rags of green weed hung down.
While his gills were breathing in
the terrible oxygen
--the frightening gills,
fresh and crisp with blood,
that can cut so badly--
I thought of the coarse white flesh
packed in like feathers,
the big bones and the little bones,
the dramatic reds and blacks
of his shiny entrails,
and the pink swim-bladder
like a big peony.
I looked into his eyes
which were far larger than mine
but shallower, and yellowed,
the irises backed and packed
with tarnished tinfoil
seen through the lenses
of old scratched isinglass.
They shifted a little, but not
to return my stare.
--It was more like the tipping
of an object toward the light.
I admired his sullen face,
the mechanism of his jaw,
and then I saw
that from his lower lip
--if you could call it a lip
grim, wet, and weaponlike,
hung five old pieces of fish-line,
or four and a wire leader
with the swivel still attached,
with all their five big hooks
grown firmly in his mouth.
A green line, frayed at the end
where he broke it, two heavier lines,
and a fine black thread
still crimped from the strain and snap
when it broke and he got away.
Like medals with their ribbons
frayed and wavering,
a five-haired beard of wisdom
trailing from his aching jaw.
I stared and stared
and victory filled up
the little rented boat,
from the pool of bilge
where oil had spread a rainbow
around the rusted engine
to the bailer rusted orange,
the sun-cracked thwarts,
the oarlocks on their strings,
the gunnels--until everything
was rainbow, rainbow, rainbow!
And I let the fish go.

This poem is about a fisherman who catches an old fish (wow what an astute observation!), and is so awed by the fact that this fish has survived so long that he lets it go. She also seems to be rather humbled by the fact that the fish itself seems to nobly take defeat, instead of flailing around like a fish out of water (mind the pun), it just sits there, accepting the fact that it has finally been overcome. Bishop compares the fish to an old war veteran, the old overgrown hooks in its mouth are said to be "war medals."The author refers to parts of the fish as flowers or other things related to vivid coloration, even though the fish itself is dull and has skin like "ancient wallpaper," and then seems to see the beauty in every part of the fish, down to its entrails and the lice living underneath its scales. The thing that finally seems to make the fisherman let the fish go though, is the fact that she begins to see rainbows everywhere, starting from the oil on the surface of the water and soon spreading to everything she sees. This is probably a metaphorical rainbow however, and instead the author has come to realize something about herself through the fish, and so she lets it go.

Monday, March 7, 2011

Colors by Crossfade

Can you feel it crush you? Does it seem to bring the worst in you out?
There's no running away from these things that hold you down
Do they complicate you because they make you feel like this?
Of all the colors that you've shined this is surely not your best

But you should know these colors that you're shining are...

[Chorus x2:]
Surely not the best colors that you shine

I know you feel alone, yeah, and no one else can figure you out
But don't you ever turn away from the ones that help you down?
Well they'd love to save you. Don't you know they love to see you smile?
But these colors that you've shined are surely not your style

[Chorus x2]

I know you're feeling like you're lost
But you should know these colors that you're shinin are
I know you're feeling like you're lost,
You feel you've drifted way too far
Did you know these colors that you're shinin' are

[Chorus x2]

Surely not the best..
(I know you're feeling like you're lost)
Colors that you shine..
(but you should know these colors that you're shining are)
Surely not the best..
(I know you're feeling like you're lost you feel you`ve drifted way too far)
Did you know these colors that you're shinin' are..

       Honestly, this is one of my (most?) favorite songs I've ever heard simply because of the lyrics. I've sort of grown away from the music itself after hearing it for the first time a few years ago, but I still relate back to it, which doesn't happen often with me and songs. I think the author is talking about how oftentimes people push others away in difficult situations, oftentimes because they feel as if the friends are an encumberance to themselves, or vice versa. People can get vindictive, aggressive, and spiteful if they feel hurt or cornered, which normally gets directed at the people closest to them.  However, these people are there for you to lean on if needed; he says "they'd love to save you, don't you know they love to see you smile?," emphasizing this fact that the people that care for you, really do care for you. I know it makes me happy when I see my friends smile, I mean, heck, I go out of my way half of the time just to make random people I don't even know smile. However, the song also pushes not only to rely on other people to get out of a bad situation, but to rely on yourself as well. Whenever he says "I know........." and then proceeds to beat the listener over the head with the fact that the "colors" he or she is displaying are not the best, the artist is trying to exhort the listener  to try to get themself out of his or her own slump through mostly their own effor.  One of my favorite aspects of the song, as well as probably the most important, is the fact that the artist compares emotions and actions metaporically to "colors," which are just as wide and varied as the spectrums of the rainbow. The artist also uses a bit of contradiction, because usually negative emotions are related to darker colors such as reds or blacks, which cannot really be "shined" unless they are really bright or powerful. The repetition of certain phrases also adds to the overall effect of the song, especially when he states over and over again that "these colors are surely not the best that you've shined."