Poetry Explorer- Classic Contemporary Poetry, ANGLING, by CAROLINE ANNE BOWLES SOUTHEY

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ANGLING, by             Poet's Biography
First Line: My father loved the patient angler's art
Last Line: "with pointing finger, and triumphant ""there!"
Alternate Author Name(s): Bowles, Caroline Anne
Subject(s): Fish & Fishing

MY father loved the patient angler's art;
And many a summer day, from early morn
To latest evening, by some streamlet's side
We two have tarried; strange companionship!
A sad and silent man; a joyous child.
Yet were those days, as I recall them now,
Supremely happy. Silent though he was,
My father's eyes were often on his child
Tenderly eloquent -- and his few words
Were kind and gentle. Never angry tone
Repulsed me, if I broke upon his thoughts
With childish question. But I learnt at last --
Learnt intuitively to hold my peace
When the dark hour was on him, and deep sighs
Spoke the perturbed spirit -- only then
I crept a little closer to his side,
And stole my hand in his, or on his arm
Laid my cheek softly; till the simple wile
Won on his sad abstraction, and he turn'd
With a faint smile, and sigh'd, and shook his head,
Stooping toward me; so I reached at last
Mine arm about his neck, and clasp'd it close,
Printing his pale brow with a silent kiss.
That was a lovely brook, by whose green marge
We two, (the patient angler and his child)
Loiter'd away so many summer days!
A shallow sparkling stream, it hurried now
Leaping and glancing among large round stones,
With everlasting friction chafing still
Their polish'd smoothness; on a gravelly bed,
Then softly slipt away with rippling sound,
Or all inaudible, where the green moss
Sloped down to meet the clear reflected wave,
That lipp'd its emerald bank with seeming show
Of gentle dalliance. In a dark, deep pool
Collected now, the peaceful waters slept
Embay'd by rugged headlands; hollow roots
Of huge old pollard willows. Anchor'd there
Rode safe from every gale, a silvan fleet
Of milk-white water lilies; every bark
Worthy as those on his own sacred flood
To waft the Indian Cupid. Then the stream
Brawling again o'er pebbly shallows ran,
On -- on, to where a rustic, rough-hewn bridge,
All bright with mosses and green ivy wreathes,
Spann'd the small channel with its single arch;
And underneath, the bank on either side
Shelved down into the water darkly green
With unsunn'd verdure; or whereon the sun
Look'd only when his rays at eventide
Obliquely glanced between the blacken'd piers
With arrowy beams of orient emerald light
Touching the river and its velvet marge --
'Twas there, beneath the archway, just within
Its rough misshapen piles, I found a cave,
A little secret cell, one large flat stone
Its ample floor, embedded deep in moss,
And a rich tuft of dark blue violet,
And fretted o'er with curious groining dark,
Like vault of Gothic chapel was the roof
Of that small cunning cave.....Methought
The little Naiad of our brook might haunt
That cool retreat, and to her guardian care
My wont was ever, at the bridge arrived,
To trust our basket, with its ample store
Of home-made, wholesome cates; by one at home
Provided for our banquet-hour at noon.
A joyful hour! anticipated keen
With zest of youthful appetite I trow,
Full oft expelling unsubstantial thoughts
Of grots and naiads, sublimated fare --
The busy, bustling joy, with housewife airs
(Directress, handmaid, lady of the feast!)
To spread that "table in the wilderness!"
The spot selected with deliberate care,
Fastidious from variety of choice,
Where all was beautiful. Some pleasant nook
Among the fringing alders: or beneath
A single spreading oak: or higher up
Within the thicket, a more secret bower,
A little clearing carpeted all o'er
With creeping strawberry, and greenest moss
Thick vein'd with ivy. There unfolded smooth
The snowy napkin (carefully secured
At every corner with a pebbly weight,)
Was spread prelusive; fairly garnish'd soon
With the contents (most interesting then)
Of the well-plenish'd basket: simple viands,
And sweet brown bread, and biscuits for dessert,
And rich ripe cherries; and two slender flasks,
Of cider one, and one of sweet new milk,
Mine own allotted beverage, temper'd down
From the near streamlet. Two small silver cup
Set our grand buffet -- and all was done;
But there I stood immovable, entranced,
Absorb'd in admiration -- shifting oft
My ground contemplative, to reperuse
In every point of view the perfect whole
Of that arrangement, mine own handiwork.
Then glancing skyward, if my dazzled eyes
Shrank from the sunbeams, vertically bright,
Away, away, toward the river's brink
I ran to summon from his silent sport
My father to the banquet; tutor'd well,
As I approach'd his station, to restrain
All noisy outbreak of exuberant glee;
Lest from their quiet haunts the finny prey
Should dart far off to deeper solitudes.
The gentle summons met observance prompt
Kindly considerate of the famish'd child:
And all in order left -- the mimic fly
Examined and renew'd, if need required,
Or changed for other sort, as time of day,
Or clear or clouded sky, or various signs
Of atmosphere or water, so advised
Th' experienced angler; the long line afloat --
The rod securely fix'd; then into mine
The willing hand was yielded, and I led
With joyous exultation that dear guest
To our green banquet-room. Not Leicester's self,
When to the hall of princely Kenilworth
He led Elizabeth, exulted more
With inward gratulation at the show
Of his own proud magnificence, than I,
When full in view of mine arranged feast,
I held awhile my pleased companion back,
Exacting wonder -- admiration, praise,
With pointing finger, and triumphant "There!"

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