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Analysis


Symbolism, Imagery, Wordplay

Welcome to the land of symbols, imagery, and wordplay. Before you travel any further, please know that there may be some thorny academic terminology ahead. Never fear, Shmoop is here. Check out our...

Form and Meter

Though a tidy and careful poet, Elizabeth Bishop only occasionally writes formal stuff. She has a sestina and a villanelle in her collected poems, and sometimes she'll choose a rhyme scheme to work...

Speaker

The speaker of this poem is a fisherperson. Man or woman, we can't really tell, though we keep calling the speaker "her," since the poet is a woman. But the fisher is very attentive (we know this b...

Setting

Out on the water in a boat. We can assume it's saltwater from the mentions of sea lice and barnacles. Gulf, sea, bay, or ocean though, we're not really sure. We can probably assume it's not the hig...

Sound Check

One of Bishop's most subtle strengths is the sound of her poetry. It's not pots and pans clanging, it's more like a gentle breeze through the leaves. You don't really notice the sound unless you pa...

What's Up With the Title?

The title, like most of the poem, is pretty straightforward. It announces its subject without any mask or any bells and whistles. It gives us a real foothold right away. We know by the title and th...

Calling Card

It seems like Bishop is armed with the world's best microscopes and magnifying glasses. Maybe even x-ray goggles. She notices every detail at an elemental level. She will rarely settle on only one...

Tough-o-Meter

Yeah, there's a lot to this poem, but most of the good stuff happens on the surface. At this altitude, we're not too far into the fog yet. The view is clear and the trail is steady.

Trivia

Bishop was poet Marianne Moore's accomplice in trimming the hair off of an elephant (as a replacement for an elephant hair bracelet Moore owned) at the Ringling Bros. and Barnum and Bailey Circus i...

Steaminess Rating

The babies can watch this one. There's nothing sexy going on at all.
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