Study Guide

The Fish (Marianne Moore) Man and the Natural World

By Marianne Moore

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Man and the Natural World

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.

Questions About Man and the Natural World

  1. Why do we get so many different perspectives of the natural world in "The Fish"?
  2. What kind of language does Moore use to describe all the aquatic scenery? Can you pick out specific adjectives that look rather human-like?
  3. How does the poem's form add to this theme of man and the natural world? How do its wavy lines mimic humanity in the natural world?
  4. How is life and death portrayed in the natural world? Do the two work together? If so, how?

Chew on This

"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.

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