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What 'shoal' and 'darts' mean here?

It's from the book Possession by A.S. Byatt, p70; here is the context>

“And from all these things the soft light proceeded, like the glimmering of pearls in the depth of water, like the phosphorescent light that moves of itself on the night surface of southern seas, or shines round the heaving shoals, milky-white over their silver darts, in our own dark Channel.”

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    They're shoals of fish - in context, presumably moonlit, so each individual fish looks like a silver dart = projectile. – FumbleFingers Sep 3 '18 at 15:26
  • silver darts: actually I think dart is a verb here, sudden rapid movement. Silver because of the apparent colour of the fish. – djna Sep 3 '18 at 15:29
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    My feeling is that in this very poetic context a mundane reference to "One Hundred and Eighty" is out of place. However that's the beauty of interpretation ... we can cheerfully disagree. – djna Sep 3 '18 at 16:27
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    @Deansue: Don't spent too much effort trying to understand either the syntax or the meaning of this passage (it's extremely flowery / literary / metaphoric, a long way from natural conversational English). The preposition usage in moves of itself is a rather dated / poetic alternative to moves by itself (unassisted, under its own steam; it's not being moved by some external force). As to exactly what that means in the specific context - it's poetry, and to some extent it "means" whatever it makes you think of. – FumbleFingers Sep 4 '18 at 12:24
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    @Deansue: I don't mean to imply criticism of A.S. Byatt's literary output. But most of it (and certainly the excerpt cited here) isn't really suitable reading material for people who don't already have excellent command of English. Specifically, it's "normal" for poetry (and "poetic prose") to push the constraints of language to the limit (and sometimes beyond). So it should only really be read for the sake of the emotional reactions it invokes, not to learn about syntax, vocabulary, idiomatic usages, etc. – FumbleFingers Sep 4 '18 at 15:24
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“And from all these things the soft light proceeded, like the glimmering of pearls in the depth of water, like the phosphorescent light that moves of itself on the night surface of southern seas, or shines round the heaving shoals, milky-white over their silver darts, in our own dark Channel.”

shoals means: all the fish swimming together

They dart around = move swiftly, darts are like spears.

So, explained in very simple terms that destroys the poetry of A. S. Byatt:

the light shines over shoals of fish that move up and down and that look milky-white. The fish are under the water but they are darting around. The fish look like silver spear tips or darts under the surface of the water.

Apologies to the author if she ever sees this. :)

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