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The Fish

The Fish


by Elizabeth Bishop

Lines 41-44 Summary

Get out the microscope, because we’re going through this poem line-by-line.

Lines 41-42

They shifted a little, but not
to return my stare.

  • The fish's eyes move (he's still alive), but not to look at the speaker who is studying him so carefully.
  • It's not the competitive stare-off we originally suspected then, is it?

Lines 43-44

—It was more like the tipping
of an object toward the light.

  • Again, Bishop is adjusting and perfecting what she said in the previous lines (that the eyes shifted). She wants us to know exactly what this moment is like.
  • Bishop also momentarily has us consider the fish as an object, not a living thing. This isn't the first time she's done it, either. Remember the wallpaper?

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