Category Archives: Poetry

The Fish

IMG_20150514_072657

The Fish

I caught a tremendous fish
and held him beside the boat
half out of water, with my hook
fast in a corner of his mouth.
He didn’t fight.
He hadn’t fought at all.
He hung a grunting weight,
battered and venerable
and homely. Here and there
his brown skin hung in strips
like ancient wallpaper,
and its pattern of darker brown
was like wallpaper:
shapes like full-blown roses
stained and lost through age.
He was speckled with barnacles,
fine rosettes of lime,
and infested
with tiny white sea-lice,
and underneath two or three
rags of green weed hung down.
While his gills were breathing in
the terrible oxygen
—the frightening gills,
fresh and crisp with blood,
that can cut so badly—
I thought of the coarse white flesh
packed in like feathers,
the big bones and the little bones,
the dramatic reds and blacks
of his shiny entrails,
and the pink swim-bladder
like a big peony.
I looked into his eyes
which were far larger than mine
but shallower, and yellowed,
the irises backed and packed
with tarnished tinfoil
seen through the lenses
of old scratched isinglass.
They shifted a little, but not
to return my stare.
—It was more like the tipping
of an object toward the light.
I admired his sullen face,
the mechanism of his jaw,
and then I saw
that from his lower lip
—if you could call it a lip—
grim, wet, and weaponlike,
hung five old pieces of fish-line,
or four and a wire leader
with the swivel still attached,
with all their five big hooks
grown firmly in his mouth.
A green line, frayed at the end
where he broke it, two heavier lines,
and a fine black thread
still crimped from the strain and snap
when it broke and he got away.
Like medals with their ribbons
frayed and wavering,
a five-haired beard of wisdom
trailing from his aching jaw.
I stared and stared
and victory filled up
the little rented boat,
from the pool of bilge
where oil had spread a rainbow
around the rusted engine
to the bailer rusted orange,
the sun-cracked thwarts,
the oarlocks on their strings,
the gunnels—until everything
was rainbow, rainbow, rainbow!
And I let the fish go.

Elizabeth Bishop, 1911 – 1979

1 Comment

Filed under Craft, Interior Design, Poetry

Working Windmill in Windy Wales (Pt II) All Grist to the Mill

George Orwell wasn’t a fan.
Of dying metaphors, that is, I’m not sure whether he was a fan of windmills or not.

Animal-Farm-A-Fairy-Story

What’s not to like?

Windmills are wonderful. Literally.

It is an awesome thing to watch wind captured, to witness invisible swirls and draughts caught by, embraced by huge lumbering sails.
That great gigantic beehive coaxed into action by gusts of breeze and bluster.
Not just the wheat or barley adding grist, but the wind itself.
Without wind – grist grinds to a halt.

Which is what Orwell would have preferred:

‘Dying metaphors … a huge dump of worn-out metaphors which have lost all evocative power and are merely used because they save people the trouble of inventing phrases for themselves. Examples are: Ring the changes on, take up the cudgels for, toe the line, ride roughshod over, stand shoulder to shoulder with, play into the hands of, no axe to grind, grist to the mill…’

What dying metaphor would you add to his list?
Or have you invented your very own cliche?

My donation is not a metaphor, nor a cliche.
But it is the most overused/misused word in the history of words. And that is:

Absolutely.

Yes, absolutely. You’re absolutely right.
Absolutely no way. Absolutely perfect. Absolutely ridiculous.

Anyway. I absolutely must go. I’ve got grist to grind.

2 Comments

April 30, 2014 · 7:18 am

What rhymes with amethyst?

What rhymes with amethyst?

Not a lot apparently.
Only rather alarming looking words ending in …cyst.
So it’s hardly surprising that there is little in the literary canon about the good old amethyst.
It just isn’t poetic enough.
Let’s try another approach. Take a look at the etymology.
Oh dear.
From the Greek ‘amethustos’ meaning ‘sober’, the amethyst will guard against drunkenness.
Here then, is a beautiful amethyst necklace for the lush in your life, a lush not fond of poetry.

Oh, and the Lady at The Telegraph, loves all things purple, especially the amethyst. It is the gem to buy in 2014.

1 Comment

April 8, 2014 · 8:43 pm