Ponder deep wisdom, dark or clear, Each secret fishy hope or fear. Fish say, they have their Stream and Pond; But is there anything Beyond? This life cannot be All, they swear, For how unpleasant, if it were! One may not doubt that, somehow, Good Shall come of Water and of Mud; And, sure, the reverent eye must see A Purpose in Liquidity.
But somewhere, beyond Space and Time, Is wetter water, slimier slime! And there (they trust) there swimmeth One Who swam ere rivers were begun, Immense, of fishy form and mind, Squamous, omnipotent, and kind.
And when the Salmon seeks a fresher stream to find; (Which hither from the sea comes, yearly, by his kind,) As he towards season grows; and stems the watry tract Where Tivy, falling down, makes an high cataract, Forc'd by the rising rocks that there her course oppose, As tho' within her bounds they meant her to inclose; Here when the labouring fish does at the foot arrive, And finds that by his strength he does but vainly strive; His tail takes in his mouth, and, bending like a bow That's to full compass drawn, aloft himself doth throw, Then springing at his height, as doth a little wand That bended end to end, and started from man's hand, Far off itself doth cast, so does that Salmon vault; And if, at first, he fail, his second summersault He instantly essays, and, from his nimble ring Still yerking, never leaves until himself he fling Above the opposing stream.
Some people are under the impression that all that is required to make a good fisherman is the ability to tell lies easily and without blushing; but this is a mistake. Mere bald fabrication is useless; the veriest tyro can manage that. It is in the circumstantial detail, the embellishing touches of probability, the general air of scrupulous -- almost of pedantic -- veracity, that the experienced angler is seen.
Rise, brothers, rise; the wakening skies pray to the morning light, The wind lies asleep in the arms of the dawn like a child that has cried all night. Come, let us gather our nets from the shore and set our catamarans free, To capture the leaping wealth of the tide, for we are the kings of the sea!
No longer delay, let us hasten away in the track of the sea gull's call, The sea is our mother, the cloud is our brother, the waves are our comrades all. What though we toss at the fall of the sun where the hand of the sea-god drives? He who holds the storm by the hair, will hide in his breast our lives.
Sweet is the shade of the cocoanut glade, and the scent of the mango grove, And sweet are the sands at the full o' the moon with the sound of the voices we love; But sweeter, O brothers, the kiss of the spray and the dance of the wild foam's glee; Row, brothers, row to the edge of the verge, where the low sky mates with the sea.
Go fish and hunt far and wide day by day - farther and wider - and rest thee by many brooks and hearth-sides without misgiving. Remember thy Creator in the days of thy youth. Rise free from care before the dawn, and seek adventures. Let the noon find thee by other lakes, and the night overtake thee everywhere at home. There are no larger fields than these, no worthier games than may here be played.
We may say of angling, as Dr. Boteler said of strawberries, Doubtless God could have made a better berry, but doubtless God never did; and so, if I might be judge, God never did make a more calm, quiet, innocent recreation than angling.