Two poems, “The Fish” by Elizabeth Bishop and “The Meadow Mouse” by Theodore Roethke, include characters who experience, learn, and emote with nature. In Elizabeth Bishop’s poem “The Fish,” a fisherman catches a fish, likely with the intention to kill it, but frees it when he sees the world through the eyes of the fish. In Theodore Roethke’s poem “The Meadow Mouse,” a man finds a meadow mouse with the intention of keeping it and shielding it from nature, but it escapes into the wild. These poems, set in different scenarios, highlight two scenarios where men and women interact with nature and experience it in their own ways.
Each poem describes a scene where a man learns from his experience and interaction with nature. In “The Meadow Mouse” the man instantly finds himself a father-figure to the mouse that he finds. When the mouse leaves, he thinks of the dangers of nature such as, “the turtle ...view middle of the document...
Both men learn about themselves and how they feel about nature from their encounters with wildlife.
Although both poems end with a description of each man learns, they do not find nature to be the same. “The Meadow Mouse” ends with the man thinking about the dangers of nature. He calls, “all things innocent, hapless, and forsaken,” as if nature is dangerous and should be feared. He finds that he is fearful of nature and feels the need to protect himself and “all things” from it. “The Fish” ends with the man releasing the fish and seeing the world in rainbows. Throughout the poem the man begins to become more empathetic towards the fish, beginning with a purely optical description followed by an in depth description, and finally an empathetic description of the fish as he reels it in. Once the fish is at the boat he sees, “everything [as] rainbows, rainbows, rainbows!” as if he was looking through the eyes of the fish and understanding the fish. This fish highlights and emphasizes this man’s love of nature and how powerful its beauty is. The connotation of rainbows in this power include beauty and mysticism. The man in “The Fish” finds his love of nature, and the man in “The Meadow Mouse” finds his fear of nature.
Although both of these men learn from their individual interactions and experiences with nature, they both “take away” different emotions. Fear and love are close to opposites to each other, but with respect to nature they may not be so different. Love is literally a feeling of deep affection, and fear is an emotion caused by the belief that something is likely a threat or dangerous. What if this threat is a threat of beauty or love? What if this threat is not a physical threat but an emotional one in which an emotion is threatening to appear? If this emotion is love, then the love and fear of nature are not so different; they are more similar than different. The fisherman seems to be ready to accept nature and all of its beauty, but the man from “The Meadow Mouse” is not ready to accept natures love, and therefore the endings of the two poems are different, yet alike.