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A Wreath To The Fish Analysis

Author: poem of Nancy Willard Type: poem Views: 4

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Who is this fish, still wearing its wealth,

flat on my drainboard, dead asleep,

its suit of mail proof only against the stream?

What is it to live in a stream,

to dwell forever in a tunnel of cold,

never to leave your shining birthsuit,

never to spend your inheritance of thin coins?

And who is the stream, who lolls all day

in an unmade bed, living on nothing but weather,

singing, a little mad in the head,

opening her apron to shells, carcasses, crabs,

eyeglasses, the lines of fisherman begging for

news from the interior-oh, who are these lines

that link a big sky to a small stream

that go down for great things:

the cold muscle of the trout,

the shinning scrawl of the eel in a difficult passage,

hooked-but who is this hook, this cunning

and faithful fanatic who will not let go

but holds the false bait and the true worm alike

and tears the fish, yet gives it up to the basket

in which it will ride to the kitchen

of someone important, perhaps the Pope

who rejoices that his cook has found such a fish

and blesses it and eats it and rises, saying,

"Children, what is it to live in the stream,

day after day, and come at last to the table,

transfigured with spices and herbs,

a little martyr, a little miracle;

children, children, who is this fish?"


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