Poetry Explorer- Classic Contemporary Poetry, FISHING, by MAXWELL STRUTHERS BURT



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FISHING, by             Poet's Biography
First Line: The days that I went fishing
Last Line: Of white stones and a running stream.
Alternate Author Name(s): Burt, Struthers
Subject(s): Fish & Fishing; Nature; Anglers


The days that I went fishing,
I would wake before the dawn,
The moon a little lip of gold
Above a silver lawn,
Where, in a velvet pool of trees,
A gray mist hung, unstirred by breeze,
Or any sound; so patiently
The world bore night, it seemed to me.

The house was silent to my feet,
Beneath a tiptoe tread,
And I could see behind each door,
Calm in a white-paned bed,
An aunt with high patrician nose,
An uncle carmined; there arose
A smell of matting on the air,
Sober and cooling everywhere.

Beside the stove the cat blinked twice,
With eyes of topaz gold,
And yawned with infinite contempt,
For sleep is always new, and old
Is fishing; on the Nile,
Once with mysterious feline guile,
In temple-shadowed moonlight bays,
Were caught bright fins of other days.

The cat, the kitchen stove, the door
Upon a miracle of sun:
O for the dew upon the grass!
O for the feet that dance and run!
And in the maples' tiptop spires
The bursting song of passionate choirs!
I think that morning's finest joys
Are saved for little fishing boys.

Where trout lie there are white, white stones,
With running water over;
And half the air is made of mint,
And half is made of clover;
And slow clouds come and go and sail
Like giant fish with lazy tail.

A stream runs out a fine-spun song,
From shadowy pools to laughter;
A wood-song, with a chorus clear,
And a lilt, and a chuckle after;
For little pools with sunlight in
Are like plucked notes of a violin,
While through the mist of melodies
Stirs ever the motif of the breeze.

Some find bird-caroling sweet at dawn,
And some more sweet at noon,
But fishing boys like dusk, I think,
For there's a hush, that soon,
When evening sends them homeward bound,
Turns every field to tremulous sound,
Where thrush and owl and meadow lark
Chant to the coming of the dark.

The nights when I'd been fishing
Were always very still,
Save for the rustling of the leaves,
A distant whip-poor-will,
And in a sky of velvet blue
The stars were golden fishes too,
Swam slowly, swam into a dream
Of white stones and a running stream.





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