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The Fish Summary
Marianne Moore

Everything you need to understand or teach The Fish by Marianne Moore.

  • The Fish Summary & Study Guide

The Fish Summary


Marianne Moore wrote "The Fish" in 1918 but it was published later in her first collection, Poems, in 1921. This collection was published, without her knowledge, in England by two of Moore's friends. An example of rhymed syllabic verse, "The Fish" highlights Moore's ability for precise visual description. Ironically, the poem is not about fish at all, but rather the relationship among a seaside cliff, sea life, and the sea itself. Sunlight acts upon the sea and its creatures, and the sea acts upon a cliff. Moore highlights the interdependence of these elements in the shape of the poem, which moves like a wave, surging towards a subject, then retreating from it. The narrator of the poem describes this interdependence in a hard, emotionally detached manner. Her images paradoxically suggest both fecundity and abundance and starkness and death. This dichotomy drives the poem, but Moore never resolves the paradox; rather, she...

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The Fish Study Guide

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