Fishes' Cry: An Analysis of "The Fish Are All Sick" by Anne Stevenson.

Essay by luigico889College, UndergraduateA+, December 2005

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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...