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Critical response to "Behaviour of Fish in an Egyptian Tea-Garden".

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Introduction

The poem I read was "Behaviour of Fish in an Egyptian Tea-Garden" written by Keith Douglas. I found the poem interesting because it contained excellent figures of speech and a good use of enjambment. "Behaviour of Fish in an Egyptian Tea-Garden" is about an attractive woman who is referred to in the poem as a white stone and different types of men who are referred to as different species of fish. The poem sets a scene of all the 'species' of men who are all trying to gain the attractive woman's attention so as to try and seduce her into having sex with them even though they know there is little chance of this happening! Throughout the poem you begin to realise that this woman is not going to be interested in the men who are in the tea-garden no matter how many sacrifice themselves to her because she needs a very rich man who is willing to marry her, keep her and provide for her for the rest of her life, she's out for what she can get - she is not interested in meaningless relationships. ...read more.

Middle

One example of this is at the end of verse one where it says "Her red lip on the spoon" and then carries this sentence through to the start of verse two "slips in a morsel of ice-cream." I find the technique of enjambment helps the poem because it coaxes the reader into paying more attention in trying to bring the poem together and help them understand it and it helps to increase the woman's seductiveness. Throughout the poem there are many figures of speech - mainly metaphors and the simile. One of my favourite metaphors is in verse five, "Captain on leave, a lean dark mackerel" throughout this poem it refers to the men in the Egyptian tea-garden as different species of fish however, I think this is the most cleverly linked comparison. The metaphor describes the captain as a mackerel and this suits him very well because a mackerel is colourful, handsome and fast - I think this describes this specific 'species' of man well because it is more than likely that he is interesting, handsome and fit with having the job of a Captain. ...read more.

Conclusion

The theme of competition I think plays a part in the poem because of all the different species of fish (men) competing to gain the white stone's (woman's) attention. For example the "cotton magnate, an important fish" whilst he is powerful and confident and perhaps assumes he has a chance with the attractive woman, the "crustacean old man, clamped to his chair" was forced to fantasise about the woman as he knew he didn't have a chance with her. The setting of the poem is in an Egyptian Tea-Garden. I think the setting of this particular poem is important because it sounds luxurious and somewhat exotic and that is how the personality of the attractive woman comes across. It is an ideal location for the woman to be in - it suits her. My response to the poem "Behaviour of Fish in an Egyptian Tea-Garden" as a whole is that it is an interesting subject which I found amusing. The poem is quite easy to interpret and I think the metaphorical names for both the men and woman made the poem more interesting and this poem would encourage me to read more of Keith Douglas' work. ...read more.

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