Of all the animals mentioned or talked about in the anthology called Literature and the Environment, the one that called out to me was fish and the stories of fish. They called to me, not because I am into fishing or have a love for fish, but because of the way the authors wrote them and the fact that they seem to mostly be stories of people experiences with encountering fish in one way or another. I enjoy these stories because even if they have a bad encounter with a fish they always seem to have a sense of triumph after they are done.
The first piece in the anthology that I noticed was The Fish by Elizabeth Bishop. One reason I noticed it was because I had to read it for an assignment for this class but I also noticed it because I had read it before in an Introduction To Poetry course that I took this past fall semester. This piece is one of the ones I like the most because it is a piece of poetry and I love poetry and so it stuck out to me for that reason. I love this piece because of the sense of triumph it creates in the readers mind through the descriptions that the speaker gives about her fishing experience. She shows this sense of triumph right from the beginning on through the poem to the end. She starts out doing this by explaining first what she did with the fish,
I caught a tremendous fish
and held him beside the boat
half out of water, with my hook
fast in the corner of his mouth.
He didn’t fight.
He hadn’t fought at all. (Bishop 161)
She seems to be showing her sense of triumph in that even though she didn’t have to fight the fish she still caught a fish, thus triumphing over him and she is proud of this fact and feels triumphant. She also explains her sense of triumph by the way she describes the fish hooks and fishing lines that are still stuck in the fishes mouth,
I admired his sullen face,
the mechanism of his jaw,
and then I saw
that from his lower lip
—if you could call it a lip—
grim, wet, and weapon like,
hung five old pieces of fish-line,
or four and a wire leader
with the swivel still attached,
with all their five big hooks
grown firmly in his mouth. (Bishop 162)
She is saying in a way that just because other people have already triumphed over the fish doesn’t not mean she did not triumph over it too and thus she experience this sense of triumph. She even explains this feeling at the end of the poem the victory she feels over the fish even though she let it go in the end.
I stared and stared
and victory filled up
the little rented boat,
from the pool of bilge,
where oil had spread a rainbow
around the rusted engine
to the bailer rusted orange,
the sun-cracked thwarts,
the oarlocks on their strings,
the gunnels—until everything
was rainbow, rainbow, rainbow!
And I let the fish go. (Bishop 162)
Another story I saw in the anthology that spoke to me was Fight with a 20-Pound Trout by Ernest Hemingway. I noticed this one not because I had to read it for a class but because it is by Earnest Hemingway and because it is about fish. I read this on my own and I realized that even though the narrator tells two stories about failed attempts at fishing he still tells it with a sense of triumph and is experiencing triumph over the fish that they did not catch and the fish that will still catch later on. He shows this early on even before he starts to the story through the background of his story, None of those lake rainbows run under four pounds and when one hits the minnow the reel buzzes, the rod tip jerks down and you grab the rod and strike and the fight is on. The point of this is that we have caught thought in this way over nine pounds in weight. We have never had one run out all the line and while we have lost many leaders we had never had a fish big enough to break the line. (159)
He seems to be illustrating that even though they didn’t triumph and catch the fish they wanted in the instances he talks about they have triumphed in the past and they will triumph in the future. He also shows through this that they triumphed because they now have good stories to tell about their fishing experiences. In the end of the story he even reiterates that even if they did not triumph now they will in the future and they may triumph over the specific fish that got away from them in these stories, “And what’s more no one has caught him and he’s still in the river.” (Hemingway 160). He seems to be saying that even hough they didn’t triumph now, they still have a sense and a feeling of triumph because they still have awesome stories to tell and thus they still triumphed in this situation. He is also saying that they will triumph in the future and thus are experiencing a feeling of triumph.
I enjoyed the stories and poems about fish that were put in this anthology because of the fact that they create a feeling of triumph for the reader in different ways. The speaker in these stories both had the fish somehow get away, one being thrown back and one getting away on it’s own and in spite of this they both still have a feeling of triumph and victory and convey their to the reader. Both of these stories are showing and creating a sense of triumph for the reader in a different way on in the fact that they caught a fish and one in the fact that they fish got away but is still out there to try and catch again in the future and triumph over it in the future. I enjoyed reading these pieces about fish and fishing not because of a love for fish or fishing or something similar but because of this sense and feeling of triumph that they convey to and create for the reader by the narrator and this was why they called out to me.
Bishop, Elizabeth., “The Fish” Literature and the Environment: A Reader on Nature and Culture. 1st Edition Ed. Lorraine Anderson, Scott Slovic, & John P. O’Grady. New York: Addison Wesley Longman, 1999. 160-162. Print.
Hemingway, Ernest., “Fight with a 20-Pound Trout” Literature and the Environment: A Reader on Nature and Culture. 1st Edition Ed. Lorraine Anderson, Scott Slovic, & John P. O’Grady. New York: Addison Wesley Longman, 1999. 158-160. Print.