Eyes are the Window to the Soul

September 2, 2010

The cliché line, “your eyes are the window to your soul,” can be supported by two of Bishop’s poems. These two poems being “The Man-Moth” and “The Fish.” The narrator speaks in each of these poems as having looked into the subject’s eyes and defining the character by the shape and darkness of their pupil or iris. “If you catch him,/ hold a flashlight up to his eye. It’s all dark pupil,/ an entire night itself…Then from the lids/ one tear, his only possession.” Through the man-moth’s eyes, we see the loneliness of his world, the darkness he lives in. His world is so dark, the audience can only see with a flashlight.

In addition, I could never before say I have felt any remorse for a fish; however, Bishop’s poem, “The Fish,” has changed my assumption. Through the fish’s eyes, I felt pain, uselessness, “but shallower, and yellowed,/ the irises backed and packed/ with tarnished tinfoil seen through the lenses…they shifted a little, but not/ to return by stare.” The fish is performing everyday, mundane routines. His yellow eyes show how sick he is of this life, so sick, he no longer fights when he is hooked. His shallow life consists of nibbling the bait, being hooked and escaping. Life is rough for this little Nemo and how could it not be with five hooks in your grim, bottom lip?

The poems that we read today were a mockery – which made them that much more captivating- and makes me believe that to show us the subject of her poems, the man-moth and the fish, Bishop had to do so through the cliché belief of looking in on the window of their souls.

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