Poetry Explanation

420 words | 2 page(s)

Katha Politt’s, a well-known feminist author, wrote her poem “Two Fish” with an encoded message that is not easy to interpret. The poem is full of vivid imagery, alternating point of view, a specific rhythm, similes, epithets, and symbolism. THESIS STATEMENT: Through the use of various literary devices, the poem develops its theme of a chasm of misunderstanding between the partners in a relationship and the hopelessness of the relationship based more on illusion than reality.

First of all, it is the symbol of fish that conveys the grim feeling of misunderstanding between the partners and a likely end of the romantic relationship. In various cultures, fish has been a powerful and always positive symbol, ranging from its being a symbol of change in Greco-Roman mythology to fertility in pagan cults to knowledge in Celtic tradition to unity and fidelity in China, etc. Whichever symbolic meaning we take, the message of the poem gets clearer: the partner of the poetic persona lives in illusion that their relationship is eternal, subject to change and transformation, faithful, and fruitful. Yet, whereas the partner associates the fish with love, imagining the fish to be what they are not, the poetic persona uncovers how superficial this approach is. The fish is dead, just as the relationship which is not based on understanding is likely to die. So, no transformation, no wisdom, no change, no fidelity, and no results – this is how the relationship comes to its natural end.

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Secondly, the theme of misunderstanding and doomed relationship is conveyed through a specific rhythm and alternating point of view. The poem reads abruptly with lots of alliterated sounds and primarily short words. This creates the feeling of suffering, of psychological torture, but also the feeling of urgency and emphasis. Perhaps, the poetic persona has already decided to break up. As for the alternating point of view, it enhances the previous effect by changes between the first person “we” and the second person “you.” This helps understand that the poem addresses some person, who has power to change the situation or, at least, had it. Thirdly, the use of similes, epithets, and other vivid imagery helps convey the contrast between illusion and reality and expose the danger and death of illusion.

Overall, the use of these literary devices has contributed greatly to development of the theme of a chasm of misunderstanding existing between the partners in a relationship. It has also conveyed the hopelessness of the relationship when they are based on illusion rather than reality.

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