In poems about the natural world, it's usually safe to assume that the speaker isn't just talking about how cool the ocean and fish look. Usually there's some sort of symbolism, or deeper meaning, going on. "The Fish" is no different, with the ocean and the cliff representing cycles of life and humanity in all its moments of peace and struggle.
"The Fish" is about more than just sea creatures, gang. It's a look at life in all its forms getting along in the universe.
Human life can be summed up in the movement of a fish swimming through "black jade waters." All of us will face some challenging, but natural, obstacles.
You'd think that with all the "dynamite" and "hatchet strokes" the cliff would have had enough and given up by now. But not our cliff. In "The Fish" that symbolic structure endures all the abuse and perseveres, even if a part of it is dead. So we understand that it's kind of like us trekking through the hard times and maybe even surprising ourselves by proving that old phrase: what doesn't kill you, makes you stronger.
Nature is one tough cookie (mmm, cookie). Since it is so closely connected to human life in "The Fish," though, we can assume that humanity is just as tough.
Hang in there, everyone. To persevere is to adapt, and the beat-up cliff proves that anything can adapt to even the harshest of circumstances both natural and manmade.
When we talk about life-stuff, we often end up with more questions than answers. "The Fish" also asks lots of life-stuff questions but doesn't give us any big "A-ha" moments. Instead life and death appear to just get along without much fuss. "It is what it is" seems to be the prevailing tone of the poem, and what it is is one big continuous, connected cycle of life. Cue The Lion King.
Good news, bad news: our world, like the ocean in "The Fish," is like an ecosystem that looks orderly but doesn't necessarily provide any life-changing answers.
It's not that there aren't any answers to our life-stuff questions, it's just that the answers are so simple in "The Fish" that it's hard to notice they're even there (deep, right?).