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Fishing Poems

Table of Contents

  1. The Angler's Song by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow
  2. The Angler's Invitation by Thomas Tod Stoddar
  3. The Call of the Stream by Charles H. Crandall
  4. No Seeking, No Losing by Anonymous
  5. The Angler by John Chalkhill
  6. The Dissatisfied Angler Boy by Hannah Flagg Gould
  7. Heaven by Rupert Brooke
  8. The Trout Brook by Sir Charles George Douglas Roberts
  9. The Trout Brook by Ralph E. McMillin
  10. The Fisher by Ruby Archer
  11. Fishing by William Henry Dawson
  12. A Boy and His Dad by Edgar A. Guest
  13. The Song of the Reel by W. E. Hutchinson
  14. My Old Fishing Boat by Isaac McLellan
  15. When Bass Begin to Bite by Ned Nettirc

  1. The Angler's Song

    by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

    From the river's plashy bank,
    Where the sedge grows green and rank,
    And the twisted woodbine springs,
    Upward speeds the morning lark
    To its silver cloud — and hark!
    On his way the woodman sings.

    On the dim and misty lakes
    Gloriously the morning breaks,
    And the eagle's on his cloud: —
    Whilst the wind, with sighing, wooes
    To its arms the chaste cold ooze,
    And the rustling reeds pipe loud.

    Where the embracing ivy holds
    Close the hoar elm in its folds,
    In the meadow's fenny land,
    And the winding river sweeps
    Through its shallows and still deeps, —
    Silent with my rod I stand.

    But when sultry suns are high
    Underneath the oak I lie
    As it shades the water's edge,
    And I mark my line, away
    In the wheeling eddy, play,
    Tangling with the river sedge.

    When the eye of evening looks
    On green woods and winding brooks,
    And the wind sighs o'er the lea, —
    Woods and streams, — I leave you then,
    While the shadow in the glen
    Lengthens by the greenwood tree.

  2. The Angler's Invitation

    by Thomas Tod Stoddart

    Come when the leaf comes angle with me,
    Come when the bee hums over the lea,
    Come with the wild flowers—
    Come with the wild showers—
    Come when the singing bird calleth for thee!

    Then to the stream side gladly we'll hie,
    Where the gray trout glide silently by,
    Or in some still place
    Over the hill face
    Hurrying onward drop the light fly.

    Then when the dew falls homeward we'll speed,
    To our own loved walls down on the mead,
    There by the bright hearth,
    Holding our night mirth,
    We'll drink to sweet friendship in need and in deed.

  3. The Call of the Stream

    by Charles H. Crandall

    I am sitting to-day at the desk alone,
    And the figures are hard to tame;
    I'd like to shift to a mossy stone
    Nor bother with pelf and fame.
    I know a pool where the waters cool
    Rest under the brawling falls,
    And the song and gleam of that mountain stream —
    Oh, it calls, and calls, and calls!

    There are hooks and lines in a wayside store
    Where the grangers buy their plug,
    And the loggers swap their river-lore
    For a jag they can hardly lug.
    I wonder how long that tackle will lie
    As useless as any dumb fool
    Unless I happen along to buy,
    And sneak for that mountain pool.

    Oh, bother the flies, I guess I've enough,
    I know where the worms are thick
    By Billy's old barn — Oh, they are the stuff —
    You can dig a quart with a stick.
    The reel is all right and the line is tight,
    And if they should happen to fail
    There's little birch rods that are fit for gods
    When they follow the trout-brook trail.

    I jing! the demon has rung me up —
    The "central" up in the woods —
    Waders, and creel, and a pocket-cup!
    I'm after the only goods.
    Wire for Hank and the old buckboard —
    The secret, I guess, is out —
    Don't bother me now — you'll get in a row —
    I'm catching the train for trout.

  4. No Seeking, No Losing

    by Anonymous

    An old philosopher in China
    Spent all his life in angling;
    He thought that there was nothing finer
    Than having his line dangling;
    He used no bait, he caught no fish
    Early or late — 't was not his wish.

  5. The Angler

    by John Chalkhill. In his fishing poem, Chalkhill tells us what it is exactly that makes fishing so great.

    O the gallant fisher's life,
    It is the best of any!
    'Tis full of pleasure, void of strife,
    And 'tis beloved by many;
    Other joys
    Are but toys;
    Only this
    Lawful is;
    For our skill
    Breeds no ill,
    But content and pleasure.

    In a morning, up we rise,
    Ere Aurora's peeping;
    Drink a cup to wash our eyes,
    Leave the sluggard sleeping;
    Then we go
    To and fro,
    With our knacks
    At our backs,
    To such streams
    As the Thames,
    If we have the leisure.

    When we please to walk abroad
    For our recreation,
    In the fields is our abode,
    Full of delectation,
    Where, in a brook,
    With a hook,—
    Or a lake,—
    Fish we take;
    There we sit,
    For a bit,
    Till we fish entangle.

    We have gentles in a horn,
    We have paste and worms too;
    We can watch both night and morn,
    Suffer rain and storms too;
    None do here
    Use to swear:
    Oaths do fray
    Fish away;
    We sit still,
    Watch our quill:
    Fishers must not wrangle.

    If the sun's excessive heat
    Make our bodies swelter,
    To an osier hedge we get,
    For a friendly shelter,
    Where, in a dike,
    Perch or pike,
    Roach or dace,
    We do chase,
    Bleak or gudgeon,
    Without grudging;
    We are still contented.

    Or we sometimes pass an hour
    Under a green willow,
    That defends us from a shower,
    Making earth our pillow;
    Where we may
    Think and pray,
    Before death
    Stops our breath;
    Other joys
    Are but toys,
    And to be lamented.

  6. The Dissatisfied Angler Boy

    by Hannah Flagg Gould

    I'm sorry they let me go down to the brook,
    I'm sorry they gave me the line and the hook,
    And I wish I had staid at home with my book.
    I'm sure 't was no pleasure to see
    That poor, little, harmless, suffering thing
    Silently writhe at the end of the string;
    Or to hold the pole, while I felt him swing
    In torture, and all for me!

    'T was a beautiful, speckled and glossy trout,
    And when from the water I drew him out
    On the grassy bank, as he floundered about,
    It made me shivering cold,
    To think I had caused so much needless pain;
    And I tried to relieve him, but all in vain;
    Oh! never, as long as I live, again
    May I such a sight behold!

    O, what would I give once more to see
    The brisk little swimmer alive and free,
    And darting about, as he used to be,
    Unhurt, in his native brook!
    'T is strange how people can love to play
    By taking innocent lives away;
    I wish I had stayed at home to-day
    With sister, and read my book.

  7. Heaven

    by Rupert Brooke

    Fish (fly-replete, in depth of June,
    Dawdling away their wat'ry noon)
    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.
    We darkly know, by Faith we cry,
    The future is not Wholly Dry.
    Mud unto mud! — Death eddies near —
    Not here the appointed End, not here!
    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 under that Almighty Fin,
    The littlest fish may enter in.
    Oh! never fly conceals a hook,
    Fish say, in the Eternal Brook,
    But more than mundane weeds are there,
    And mud, celestially fair;
    Fat caterpillars drift around,
    And Paradisal grubs are found;
    Unfading moths, immortal flies,
    And the worm that never dies.
    And in that Heaven of all their wish,
    There shall be no more land, say fish.

  8. The Trout Brook

    by Sir Charles George Douglas Roberts

    The airs that blew from the brink of day
    Were fresh and wet with the breath of May.
    I heard the babble of brown brooks falling
    And golden-wings in the woodside calling.

    Big drops hung from the sparkling eaves;
    And through the screen of the thin young leaves
    A glint of ripples, a whirl of foam,
    Lured and beckoned me out from home.

    My feet grew eager, my eyes grew wide,
    And I was off by the brown brook's side.
    Down in the swamp-bottom, cool and dim,
    I cut me an alder sapling slim.

    With nimble fingers I tied my line,
    Clear as a sunbeam, strong and fine.
    My fly was a tiny glittering thing,
    With tinsel body and partridge wing.

    With noiseless steps I threaded the wood,
    Glad of the sun pierced solitude.
    Chattered the kingfisher, fierce and shy,
    As like a shadow I drifted by.

    Lurked in their watery lairs the trout,
    But, silver and scarlet, I lured them out.
    Wary were they, but warier still
    My cunning wrist and my cast of skill.

    I whipped the red pools under the beeches;
    I whipped the yellow and dancing reaches.
    The purple eddy, smooth like oil,
    And the tail of the rapid yielded spoil.

    So all day long, till the day was done,
    I followed the stream, I followed the sun.
    Then homeward over the ridge I went,
    The wandering heart of me well content.

  9. The Trout Brook

    by Ralph Edward McMillin

    Splashing on the cold smooth stones
    In mysterious undertones;
    Singing in the brush that hedges
    Pools and rills and little ledges;
    Roaring in the cool ravine,
    Eddying in a change of scene,

    Through the half-ploughed meadow land;
    Dancing gaily on the sand,
    Echoing in woods again,
    Like the swishing of the rain;
    Gurgling, singing, dancing, splashing,
    Onward, downward ever dashing,
    Now it's murmuring almost sadly,
    Now it's gurgling onward gladly
    And it's song that's ever changing
    In a thousand keys a-ranging
    Needs but one small voice to break it,
    One swift monotone to make it
    Sweeter than the sweetest bells
    With the music that it tells,
    As you hear the tick-tick-ticking
    Of your trusty reel, whose clicking
    Speaks another silent battle
    In the roaring and the rattle
    Of the ever-singing brook
    Till you've "got him" safely, surely, "on the hook."

  10. The Fisher

    by Ruby Archer

    The fishing-rod forgot his hand
    And down the mountain stream went swirling,
    Among the eddies lightly whirling;
    And Sleep came out or By-lo Land.

    The fisher's bonny head drooped low,
    And found a fragrant tansy pillow;
    Above him sang the pine and willow,
    And wingéd dreams went to and fro.

    The trout in safety glided by.—
    At last his lashes slowly lifted,
    And up through ferny branches rifted
    Looked half awakened to the sky.

    On background of the bluest blue,
    A misty temple whitely towered,
    In vines of purple shadow bowered,
    And opal lights gleamed faintly through.

    Fine pinnacles of purest white,
    And snowy domes the clouds had builded,
    While sunbeams every wall had gilded.—
    How fair it lay within his sight!

    He watched it vanish, tower and beam,—
    The radiant form by dusk imprisoned,—
    Then sought—his rod with eyes that visioned
    The architecture of a dream.

  11. Fishing

    by William Henry Dawson

    I just take a bamboo pole,
    Linen line and Limerick hook,
    Make a sneak for some deep hole
    In the creek, in shady nook.
    Seat myself upon a stone,
    Bait my hook and throw it in,
    Sit there, quietly, alone,
    And wait to see the fun begin.
    First a nibble, then a take,
    Then my float goes out of sight,
    Then a sudden swing I make—
    Got him? Well, you're mighty right.
    Bass, by jingo! Weighs four pounds;
    Won't I have a toothsome fry?
    String him on this rope, by zounds!
    Make him safe or I'll know why.
    Once again my hook I bait,
    Once again I cast my line,
    Seat myself and watch and wait.
    Catching bass. Oh, gee! it's fine.
    Soon the float begins to sail,
    Then it makes a sudden dive;
    Holy smoke! I've hooked a whale,
    Just as sure as I'm alive.
    Pull, you sucker! Bet I'll make—
    Stop! You'll surely break the pole.
    Splash! and suddenly I wake,
    Up to neck in swimming hole.

  12. A Boy and His Dad

    by Edgar A. Guest

    A boy and his dad on a fishing-trip—
    There is a glorious fellowship!
    Father and son and the open sky
    And the white clouds lazily drifting by,
    And the laughing stream as it runs along
    With the clicking reel like a martial song,
    And the father teaching the youngster gay
    How to land a fish in the sportsman's way.

    I fancy I hear them talking there
    In an open boat, and the speech is fair.
    And the boy is learning the ways of men
    From the finest man in his youthful ken.
    Kings, to the youngster, cannot compare
    With the gentle father who's with him there.
    And the greatest mind of the human race
    Not for one minute could take his place.

    Which is happier, man or boy?
    The soul of the father is steeped in joy,
    For he's finding out, to his heart's delight,
    That his son is fit for the future fight.
    He is learning the glorious depths of him,
    And the thoughts he thinks and his every whim;
    And he shall discover, when night comes on,
    How close he has grown to his little son.

    A boy and his dad on a fishing-trip—
    Builders of life's companionship!
    Oh, I envy them, as I see them there
    Under the sky in the open air,
    For out of the old, old long-ago
    Come the summer days that I used to know,
    When I learned life's truths from my father's lips
    As I shared the joy of his fishing-trips.

  13. The Song of the Reel

    by W. E. Hutchinson

    Close by the edge of the lily pads, there's a flash and swirl of spray,
    And the line draws taut, and the rod dips low, and I sing as he speeds away;
    And I whir and click with the joy of life, as the line runs in and out,
    And I laugh with glee as I reel him in, the gamy and speckled trout.

    And again the silken line is cast, and the fly like a feather glides,
    Close to the rock where the water's deep, and the wary black bass hides.
    There's a strike and a run as the game is hooked, and his rush with a snub is met,
    But he yields at last to the steady strain, and is brought to the landing net.

    As the sun sinks low in the western sky, and the shadows longer grow,
    And the night hawk wheels in his silent flight, and the crickets draw their bow,
    And the cat-tails wave in the gentle breeze, and the boat glides on apace;
    Then I reel in the line, while the bamboo rod is laid away in its case.

    The bass and the trout, and the wall-eyed pike, the pickerel and muskalonge,
    Have each and all been lost or won as I caused them to race or plunge,
    I'm the sportsman's friend, and a foeman bold, and I've filled full many a creel;
    For what would the fisherman's luck be worth without the song of the reel?

  14. My Old Fishing Boat

    by Isaac McLellan

    My old boat rests on the shore,
    By the river's sedgy brink,
    Where the meadow grass bends o'er,
    And the cattle come to drink;
    'Tis a rusty, batter'd boat,
    Boat without master sail,
    And it never again may float,
    In dead calm or in gale;
    For its timbers and ribs are rent,
    Shiver'd and crack'd and bent,
    And the paint has faded away,
    From its sides this many a-day;
    Sides gaping in every seam,
    Wide open to the stream.

    And yet a brave boat wast thou!
    When I launch'd you long ago,
    When thy shapely, sharpen'd prow,
    Cleaved the waters like a plow;
    Gay then each painted side,
    With umber and green and white,
    My triumph and my pride,
    My glory, my heart's delight!
    Was ever a joy in the past,
    Like mine when first arose,
    The flag at the head of the mast,
    A pennon of purple and rose;
    When first thy snowy sail,
    I gave to the riotous breeze,
    And steer'd from this river-vale,
    Straight out to the open seas!

    Ah, many the splendid school
    Of fish, in these river-deeps,
    That haunt each darksome pool,
    Or flash where the current sweeps;
    Have I follow'd where e'er they float,
    And gather'd into this boat;
    And along the salty tides
    Of the sea, I have track'd their way,
    Till their glittering, scaly sides,
    In my little shallop lay.

  15. When Bass Begin to Bite

    by Ned Nettirc

    When bass begin to bite,
    O ye who'd know delight,
    Go paddle out and make the canny cast
    Where shadows loiter cool
    On limpid waveless pool,
    And fleeting swallows shimmer slanting past.

    Oh! put the prow up-stream,
    For ripples pearly gleam
    To lisp the passing moment's lullaby;
    Then wrinkle by the skiff,
    And scatter on the riff
    A wealth of silver tribute to the sky.

    That tingling thrill is Fate
    A-nibbling at the bait.
    Keep cool, and brace! The jade! She'll take the hook!
    The big one got away?
    A better luck some day!
    Now, hungry, home and reckon with the cook.

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