Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Voices from the Past: Bill Notlaw (1922)

I'm going to be honest here. I'm not sure I know exactly what's going on in this poem, but I like the title and the pseudonym (Notlaw = Walton). It's from a 1922 edition of The American Angler, which had nothing in common with the earlier American Angler of William C. Harris.

When Fish Doth Smith Mine Hook
by Bill Notlaw


When fish doth smite mine hook and send
A thrill along ye line to end
Where lieth mine hand upon ye rod,
Gadzooks! I'm transformed to a god.


What feeling rare can then compare
With joy that eke doth raise mine hair,
And speedeth heart within my breast;
Ods bodikins! 'Tis to be bless'd.


Anon a jerk and then a rush,
So shrewd it maketh my face aflush
Ye fish fast hooked doth swim apace--
Good lack! 'Tis certes a merrie race!


Now bends ye rod full lustily
And lurcheth deep within ye sea;
He leapeth like to any fawn--
Harrow, alas! He's loosed and gone.


This always do ye big one flee
And leave us sad full suddenly
While fingerlings abide for aye
With in eye or gut's to stay.


Tis thus through life, though passing queer,
The things we lose are ever dear,
Whiles them we hold seem always mean--
'Tis man's perversity I ween.

-- Dr. Todd

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