Fishes' Cry: An Analysis Of "The Fish Are All Sick" By Anne Stevenson.

1116 words - 4 pages

The poem, "The Fish Are All Sick" by Anne Stevenson, speaks a lot about the relationship between humans and nature, specifically the marine ecosystem, in the world today. Looking closely at the title of the poem, it seems that the poem is fictional - we usually hear fishes getting sick in fictional literary pieces. In addition to that, the use of the word "all" is an exaggeration of the dramatic situation of the poem - fishes are all sick. And the fact that it goes on to saying that whales are dying (an irony - whales are dying but inferior creatures such as fishes are only sick) aggravates the situation.The first line of the poem already introduces the conflict. The phrase "great whales dead" further exaggerates the dramatic situation of the poem. However, being one who lives in the modern world, one will think twice about this statement since at this point in time, it is highly possible for all fishes to get "sick" due to the modern advancement of the world. In line with that, this ambiguity connotes a dichotomy of feelings - an ambivalence as to how humanity should act. Should humanity recognize the graveness of this issue (fact), or is it an exaggeration of environmentalists' sentiments (hyperbole)? Notice that the poem is able to produce this effect only because of humanity's incognizance of the present condition of nature. Otherwise, it would be clear as to whether the first line of the poem is a hyperbole or a statement of fact.Lines 2 to 7 describe two different classes of men in relation to their roles in the environment. Lines 2 to 5 pertain to the people virtually living near the bodies of water, with most of them being fishermen. The phrases "sea men" and "low houses" denote poverty. The villages along the coast being described as "stranded" and like "ornamentals" represent the "helplessness" of the people - that is, if they are aware that the "fishes are all sick", they refuse to enter into an altruistic stance. Being described as ornamentals like "pearls on the fringe of a coat," the villages, specifically the villagers, are doing nothing about the situation. Also, the use of the word "ornamental" also suggests how people value material things over the aquatic life, turning the sea into a capitalist resource rather than a gift from God. As the fifth line goes, they opt to "turn their low houses away from the surf."On the other hand, lines 6 to 7 pertain to the rich, suggested by the words "big glass views" and "begonia beds." These people not only ignore the current environmental crises, but also worsen the situation. The word "add" in line 7 implies buying or purchasing marine products with the word "begonia beds." Ironically, these people who may be considered as the smarter group of people are the ones worsening the scenario!Between lines 7 and 8 is a blank line which symbolizes the gap between human and nature. It is not a physical gap, but an imaginative division made by humans. At present, the relationship between human and...

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