Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Voices from the Past: Isaac McLelan

Isaac McLelan was a popular poet in the 1880s who wrote many fishing-themed poems. Here is one from an 1882 The American Angler that I particularly liked.

Salmon of Labrador
By Isaac McLelan

By the wild Canadian shore,
By the sandy Labrador,
By the rocky Mingan Isles,
And where Anticosti smiles,
Numberless the salmon shoals,
Gather where the salt tide rolls.

Rivers, streams of crystal clearness,
Pour through that far-reaching strand,
From the river-mouth, St. Lawrence
To the coast of Newfoundland
Far as where the Belle-Isle strait
Opens to the seas its gate.

Cold, these rivers, as the fountains,
From the wilderness that flow,
Cold as waters of the mountain
Gelid with the ice and snow,
There amid the salt abysses,
Of the river's spring-frest tide,
Gleaming, flashing, leaping, diving,
Shoals of lordly salmon glide.

Where the river of St. John,
Mingles with the ocean surf,
Brown with weedly rocks and sanddrifts,
Green with bordering velvet turf,
There the angler with his tackle,
When the July sun rids high,
from the dawning of the sunset,
Goes to angle with the fly.

Near thy alder-skirted border,
Where the Rattling Run doth twine,
He erects his hut of branches,
Branch of hemlock and of pine,
Floors it with the cedar saplings,
Fragrant, soft as couch of kings,
There enjoys the forest pleasures
And the sleep that labor brings.

Morning with its dewy freshness,
With its rosy, smiling skies,
Calls him to the brimming river,
River of trasnparent crystal,
There is ripple and in eddy,
Or in pool, to cast his flies.

-- Dr. Todd in Baltimore, MD

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