Hurt Hawks – Robinson Jeffers and The Fish – Elizabeth Bishop Essay

25 Mar

Hurt Hawks – Robinson Jeffers and The Fish – Elizabeth Bishop Essay

Robinson Jeffers and Elizabeth Bishop were great and renowned American poets. Robinson was widely known for his narrative style of poetry with most of his poems centred on humanism. He greatly criticized human beings for being over-concerned with their own welfare at the expense of other creatures.


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On the other hand, apart from poetry Bishop was also a short story writer. This explains why most of her poetic work takes a narrative style. She rarely exposed her private life and thus her poems did not have a generalized thematic concern.

The two poems are written in the same style as both Robinson and Bishop are American poets who have consequently embraced the American style of free verse poetry. Robinson’s poem is in two verses while Bishop chose to have one verse.

Furthermore, the two poems are also written in a narrative version using imaginary characters. In her single verse Bishop narrates how the persona in her poems fished out an extra-ordinarily big fish and the sequence of events that took place. Robinson also narrates the hawk’s inner life.

There is a similarity in the thematic concerns of the two poems since they both discuss the interaction between human beings and the natural world. Bishop narrates of a fisherman who is in a dilemma on whether to release the fish he has caught or to keep the same after fishing. In the same manner Robinson also tells of the relationship of the hawk and his son.

The setting in the two poems targets humanism. In “The Fish”, the persona is satisfied to let go of the fish since if he does not it will die. The hunter in the “Hurt Hawks” decides that he would rather shoot humans and leave the hawks. This clearly portrays his contempt for man and admiration for natural environment.

The two poems are different in the general structure, sentence structure, style and diction between the two poems. The poem “Hurt Hawks” is written in two verses with each part discussing a distinct and separate idea although they are later interlinked. The first part narrates the bird’s inner feelings while the second is about the relationship of the hawk with the hunter.


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On the other hand, “The Fish” is written in a single continuous narrative verse. Bishop also employs short and simple sentences unlike the author of “Hurt Hawks” who has mostly used compound and complex sentences with very few cases of simple sentences.

There is terminal rhyme in the poem “The Fish” where the last words in alternating sentences rhyme. This creates musicality in the poem thus making it easy to recite. Examples include; bought and fight, strips and roses, go and rainbow. There are no instances of rhyme in the poem “Hurt Hawks”.

Bishop has used the fish as a symbol to show man’s superiority over other living creatures while Robinson does not use the hawk as a symbol but he directly uses the hawk to attack the inhuman nature of man.

The two poems are written by poets from the same geographical inclination hence the resemblance in style. They almost seem to address similar issues in society although their thematic concerns and diction in the poems brings out the outstanding differences in the two poems.

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