Poetry Explorer- Classic Contemporary Poetry, HOW TO CATCH A BLACK-FISH, by JOHN GARDINER CALKINS BRAINARD



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HOW TO CATCH A BLACK-FISH, by             Poet's Biography
First Line: Thomson, the poet of the year, has sung
Last Line: And feasts upon their folly.
Subject(s): Fish & Fishing; Thomson, James (1700-1748); Anglers


THOMSON, the poet of the year, has sung
And melodized the cautious, sylvan art,
To lure the trout from underneath the root
Of some old oak, or tempt him from his rock
Deep-shelving far beneath the grassy bank,
Where all is always shadow -- to the stream
That sparkles in the sunbeam. Thence the hook
Drags him in speckled beauty to the shore.
The bard of Scotland and of nature sung
For this, thy praise, sweet Thomson -- yea, and he
Of loftier thought, and bolder hand, declared
To nymphs and swains where their own Druid slept.
But who shall sing his praise, who tells the world
The way to catch a black-fish? Praise, 't is said,
Is not a plant of mortal soil -- 't is naught --
And naughty is the wish to cull its weeds.
Begin then, Muse, and help me to the bait,
That, when the sea retires, will shelter close
Beneath the sea-weed side of rocks and stones;
And gange, my hook
So that, nor steady pull may draw it off,
Nor cumbrous thread betray its fell design,--
Sit on the bow, fair sister to the eight
Who on Parnassus miss thy absence strange,
And let me scull to where the young flood lifts
The rockweed, as the morning breeze wakes up
The daisy that the lark has slept beside.
So wakes the Black-fish, and with lazy fin
Paddles his round white nose in curious search
For meat untoiled for, yet expected much.
Beware! Thy guardian genius with her wings
Of silkiness -- her breath of sea-shell air --
Her voice the whispering of the smallest bubble
That rises from the oozy depths around,
All give thee warning, Touch not! -- 'T is in vain.
The subtle bait is sought for greedily,
And swallowed without tasting -- next he lies
Panting and bleeding by the fisher's side.
And does he pause to moralize? -- No, no,
He baits the hook to tempt another on,
And feasts upon their folly.





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