Literary Analysis of “Fisherman” by Kurt Brown

English 100 – Effective College English I
Prof. Stef Donev
April 27, 2012

Literary Analysis of “Fisherman” by Kurt Brown

In Kurt Brown’s poem “Fisherman”, he reveals how life can be related to the

action of fishing in the ocean. The poet tries to interpret how a man goes about his daily

life fishing, with hope of trying to find something greater within him. He states this in the

first and second lines of the poem, “A man spends his whole life fishing in him for

something grand.”(1-2) He gives the reader the emotion and feeling of one’s persistent

journey to discovering their worth in life but even though he’s on a search to finding this,

he has his own self doubts about himself. He gives you the sense of agony,

confusion, and courage in the writing. Brown also conveys how finding something grand

within one’s self is like catching a big fish. But there are some things shadowing that and

are unexpectedly preventing the fisher from accomplishing the big catch. The poet is

metaphorically trying to portray that no matter what you encounter day by day, to keep

striving and never give up.

In the first lines of the poem opens up with “A man spends his whole life fishing

in him for something grand”(1-2), figuratively refers to men as fisherman. For that

reason, the fisherman is trying to discover something greater within and is constantly

finding a means to improve himself for the better. This goes to show how one must keep

striving, and not worrying about how difficult the path may be. As you continue reading

the poem, the line “It’s like some lost lunker, big enough to break all records” (2-3),

represents how the fisherman contemplates on an attempt to overcome other fisherman’s

achievements and exceed to do greater than their accomplishments. The poet portrays the

determination to do so and keep his hopes high, in order to become better than the rest.

The fisherman struggles and lacks confidence in himself which the poet states in the

lines “He only felt the shadow of something enormous darken is life. Or as he?” (4-5)

Brown tries to embody that its quite intimidating how other people can be better but

when encountering any adversity, you should not stop no matter how challenging it is.

The fisherman tends to continuously doubt himself, for the fact that there are

many others being more successful than he is, which shows in the line “Maybe it’s the

shadow of other fish, greater than his, the shadow of other men’s souls passing over

him”(6-7) He’s also indicating after the witnessing other’s being more accomplished than

what he has completed, his self-confidence began to sink, questioning himself if one day

he can become successful with finding his worth in life. The poet then presents “Each day

he grabs his gear and makes is way to the ocean. At least he’s sure of that: Or is he?” (8-

9), emphasizing that the fisherman does not give up and continues, striving to keep

searching but undoubtedly shows a non-stop feeling of frustrating uncertainty constantly

questioning himself. Through out the poem, the poet asserts that the fisherman is always

facing that prolonging emotion of disbelief. Consequently, the poet stresses the fact that

we are always faced with disappointment but we have to overcome that fact and succeed.

Giving up is not an option but to maintain your will and have an on going fight is what

“He shoves off, feeling the land fall away under his boots” (12), is trying to imply by the


Thinking negative will never get you anywhere, but having faith in yourself will

definitely become a factor for completing what needs to be done and increase self worth

in themselves. When the positive thinking begin to ease, the hope also grows which

connects to “ It could be today: the water heaves and settles like a chest… He’s not far

out.” (14-15) But the man still inclines that he is troubled and not so sure about moving

forward. Therefore, continuing through the poem, the writer suggests that after one day of

not finding his self worth, he moves on to discover what his unknown desires are at