Elizabeth Bishop, “The Fish”

What  is the effect of the use of short lines throughout?

What does the speaker notice about the fish she has caught?

What is the significance of the sequence of her observations? Is it important that he doesn’t return her stare? That he has five old pieces of fish line in his lip?

What is meant by, “victory filled up / the little rented boat”? The references to a rainbow?

Why does she let the fish escape?

What qualities does the speaker seem to reflect in the fish? Is this poem also about humans, and if so, how?

David Wagoner, “Elegy for a Forest Clear-Cut by the Weyerhaeuser Company”

 What is surprising about the title? Why does he mention the name of the company which cuts the trees?

What is the poem’s tone? What are some patterns in the stanzas, and how do these add to the poem’s effect? How does the poet use repetition to mourn the tree?

How does the narrator address the dead forest? What has happened in the past five months?

Has it been a good summer for replacement trees?

How does the speaker respond physically to what has happened?

What point does the writer make about the relationship between trees, roots, water, and logging?

What is the tone of the last line? (descriptive? metaphorical? angry? celebratory? resigned?)

Is this a good poem, and why?

Mary Oliver, “Five A. M. in the Pinewoods”

What is unusual about the setting of this poem? What has caused the speaker to enter the woods?

How are the deer described? Do the deer really have “thick lashes,” and why may this deer be mentioned?

Why does the speaker tell us that this is not a dream, but could be? According to the poet, what is its subject?

What do you make of the fact that the speaker thinks the deer would have embraced her? Could this be symbolic? What prevents this union?

What has the speaker learned from her vision? Is the poem’s subject nature per se, or “about the world that is ours, or could be”? In such a world, how would humans relate to nature?

Are there ambiguous aspects of this poem? Is this intentional?

Final Questions:

What do these three poems have in common? What are their differences in point of view? To what extent is each anthropomorphic (centered on human qualities)?

Judging by these poems, what do their writers believe should be humans’ relationship with nature?

How does their message differ from that of Frost’s “Design”? Do they contradict or merely complement one another?