‘Behaviour of Fish in an Egyptian Tea Garden’, written by Keith Douglas is a poem about the connection between male and woman. Explaining and analyzing the relationship between the genders sense of hierarchy, appeal and character. This might be evaluated in the odd title; the fish (man) is mesmerised by the Garden’s (lady) setting, because it is metaphorically unusual yet abnormally appealing. This draws the fish in, as seen by the fish’s ‘behaviour’.
Douglas makes an excellent example of imagery, using it to further broaden the continuous metaphor in a peculiar method.
By utilizing the vastness of the sea, filled with fish of all backgrounds, Douglas makes the poem appear rather vast however also profoundly multicultural and universal. The typicality of everything is that the fish’s all have a common desire, a sexual desire to be more precise. This build-up of “harsh want love” from the flock of fish; towards a white stone which radiates appeal, makes the poem appear somewhat immoral since of the method she “slyly” draws them in with their indisputable desire.
The method Douglas structures each verse includes to the connotation behind the fish, such as the idea of how universal the fish’s behaviour and believing patterns are (lust/love). Resulting in an entire flock of fish coming by to take a look at her appeal. For example in some of the stanzas (such as 3, four and five) we can see that Douglas presents a brand-new kind of fish/man for each verse showing how guys are generally ‘all’ the exact same regardless of their backgrounds.
The length of the stanzas being the exact same throughout might likewise represent the typicality of men, indicating it prevails throughout, nearly predicted.
Although there are metaphors throughout this poem, the enjambment is also an important technique in this poem because in each stanza it is heavily used. In the quote “The fish swim off on business: and she sits alone at the table” there is a new line between the two clauses further adding to the unpredictability of the woman but it also shows how short lived ‘beauty’ is, either the woman has grown old or she has stopped flaunting her body. Furthermore the reason why enjambment adds to the unpredictability is because on every line Douglass uses it to delay the intention of emotion to show how surprised the fish are towards this stone/woman.
In the last stanza we can see situational irony; that the escalation of attraction between all the men (thinking they would get something), gets turned down by the lady, forcing them to go back to being normal again. This is because the “ice-cream is finished”, in other words she has stopped teasing and flaunting her body. Lastly this leaves her with only the option of having a stable and tedious life with a boring rich man (“collector”), who can tend to her want/needs of money. Furthermore the woman did not find her partner for love because all the men were in a crazy lust for her body, not taking in account for her personality behind the scene.
To conclude we can see that Keith Douglas main technique is by continuously comparing his ideas using metaphors throughout the poem. One figure that came to mind when writing this essay was Marilyn Monroe, because in her era she had so much attraction, maybe because society wasn’t used to such beauty, that people (men in general) hyped her ‘level’ of attraction.