Catch, Langston Hughes: Summary & Analysis

"Catch" by Langston Hughes is a whimsical and imaginative poem that tells a concise story through vivid imagery and metaphor. The poem captures a moment of discovery and captures the essence of the unexpected and fantastical nature of love.

Catch by Langston Hughes

Big Boy came
Carrying a mermaid
On his shoulders
And the mermaid
Had her tail
Beneath his arm.
Being a fisher boy,
He’d found a fish
To carry—
Half fish,
Half girl
To marry.


In "Catch," Big Boy is depicted as carrying a mermaid on his shoulders, with her tail curved beneath his arm. The poem reveals that Big Boy, a fisher boy, has found this unique creature—a half-fish, half-girl. The poem encapsulates a moment of discovery, wonder, and potential romance.

Critical Analysis

The poem "Catch" beautifully captures the whimsy of childhood imagination and the magic of unexpected encounters. The image of Big Boy carrying a mermaid on his shoulders creates a sense of wonder and fantasy. The poem also highlights the idea of discovering something unusual and precious, which, in this case, is a creature that embodies both human and aquatic qualities.

The metaphor of the mermaid can be interpreted as a symbol of a unique and unconventional love. The merging of the fish and the girl represents the fusion of different worlds and the potential for unity despite differences. This can be seen as a reflection of the diversity and complexity of human relationships.

Themes of the Poem

  • Imagination and Wonder: The poem captures the sense of wonder and imagination inherent in childhood and unexpected discoveries.
  • Love and Unity: The metaphor of the mermaid suggests the potential for love and unity despite differences and unusual circumstances.

Stylistic Analysis

  • Imagery: The vivid imagery of Big Boy carrying the mermaid and her tail curved beneath his arm creates a striking mental picture.
  • Metaphor: The mermaid serves as a metaphor for unique and unconventional love, bringing depth to the poem's themes.


  • Wonder and Curiosity: The poem conveys a sense of wonder and curiosity about the world and the unexpected encounters it can bring.


  • Metaphor: The metaphor of the mermaid adds layers of meaning to the poem, symbolizing both uniqueness and the potential for love.
  • Imaginative Language: The poem's language contributes to its whimsical and imaginative tone, reflecting the sense of discovery and fantasy.

Sound Devices

  • Rhythmic Flow: The rhythmic flow of the poem enhances its storytelling quality and makes it engaging to read.

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