Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Voices from the Past: Frank and I

'Twas a time when Americans of all socioeconomic levels and ethnic backgrounds wrote poetry, and poets were the most respected writers. Quickly: can you name a modern, living American poet? Most probably can't, and that's a real shame.

Not surprisingly, fishing was a very common theme for poets of all styles and ability, and one of my favorites is the following charming poem, printed in the 13 October 1892 Forest & Stream under only the name "Carey." It is a poem about enjoying the outdoors, fishing for the right reasons, and most of all, about friendship. It immediately reminded me of my friends Jim and Skip, but also could be applied to a number of friends I know such Warren and Bill, Marc and Tom, and many others. It always makes me smile.

Frank and I

by Carey

Where the hoarse frog clears his throat
And the redbird's crimson coat
Gleams like livid fire afloat
Where the gilled oriole,
Wing of flame and singing soul,
Floats and sings in uncontrol--
In the lakes and streams near by
There we cast the spoon and fly--
Frank and I.

When the romping girl of May
To her sister, June, gave way,
Substituting work for play--
When the rainbow-spotted trout,
Eager, vigilant, is out
On a fly-destroying scout--
Under such a sun and sky
Fished we, with the spoon and fly--
Frank and I.

Land of nature's treasures, rare!
Garden land of lakes, so fair
As the gems a queen might wear!
Land where red does hide from prey
Polka-dotted fawns away--
Animated blossoms, they,
Agile, graceful, sweet and shy
There we fished: good reasons why--
Frank and I.

In Gogebic's faultless tides,
Where the knightly bass abides;
Not a lonely one, that hides
Under rocks, a snare to shun,
But in regiments they run
Charging Skinner Spoons for fun.
There we cast our lures to try
Each the other's skill to vie--
Frank and I.

Not for shiners silver white,
Nor for sunfish, golden bright,
Not for mud-cats, out of night,
Not with worms, on Lim'rick hook,
Held by pole of dubious crook,
Not with seine, upon the sly--
No: we wanted better fry--
Frank and I.

Only royal fish were sought,
Gamy, beauteous trout were brought
Into basket, though each fought
Bravely as a brave trout would--
Bent the rod as good trout could
Whirred the reel as true trout should,
Sordid reader, ask not why
We went forth with spoon and fly--
Frank and I.

Eagle river's silver band
Holds upon its beaded strand
Loveliest lakes of any land.
Twin lakes, clear as stainless glass--
Beautiful as burnished brass,
Home of the mascalonge and bass;
Fish, that all these waters ply--
Those we caught with spoon and fly--
Frank and I.

Caught the giant mascalonge.
Saw him leap and felt him plunge,
As a prisoned ox would lunge
After freedom. What a thrill
All the throbbing pulses fill,
As he fights with kingly will,
So the golden hours flew by,
As we cast the spoon and fly--
Frank and I.

But we found still richer prize
Than a sporstman's paradise
Found the gold of sunny skies,
Found the key to better health,
Found the key to nature's wealth,
Found the strategy and stealth
Which brings joys that satisfy,
Found all these, with spoon and fly--
Frank and I.

-- Dr. Todd

No comments: