Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Voices from the Past: Ballade of the Gamefish (1920)

Grantland Rice was one of the truly legendary sportswriters of the 20th century, probably most noted for his famous paragraph:

"Outlined against a blue-gray October sky the Four Horsemen rode again. In dramatic lore they are known as famine, pestilence, destruction and death. These are only aliases. Their real names are: Stuhldreher, Miller, Crowley and Layden. They formed the crest of the South Bend cyclone before which another fighting Army team was swept over the precipice at the Polo Grounds this afternoon as 55,000 spectators peered down upon the bewildering panorama spread out upon the green plain below."

There are some great sportswriters around today, but that right there is sportswriting at its best.

Unbeknownst to many, he was also a poet of note. Below is a fine representation of his piscatorial work.


by Grantland Rice

"Only the gamefish swims upstream."
—Colonel John Trotwood Moore.

Where the puddle is shallow, the weakfish stay
To drift along with the current's flow;
To take the tide as it moves each day
With the idle ripples that come and go;
With a shrinking fear of the gales that blow
By distant coasts where the Great Ports gleam;
Where the far heights call through the silver glow,
"Only the gamefish swims upstream."

Where the shore is waiting, the minnows play,
Borne by the current's undertow;

Drifting, fluttering on their way,
Bound by a fate that has willed it so; 

In the tree-flung shadows they never know
How far they have come from the old, brave dream;
Where the wild gales call from the peaks of snow,
"Only the gamefish swims upstream."

Where the tide rolls down in a flash of spray
And strikes with the might of a bitter foe,
The shrimp and the sponge are held at bay
Where the dusk winds call and the sun sinks low;
They call it Fate in their endless woe
As they shrink in fear when the wild hawks scream
From the crags and crests where the great thorns grow,
"Only the gamefish swims upstream."

Held with the current the Fates bestow, 

The driftwood moves to a sluggish theme,
Nor heeds the call which the Far Isles throw, 

"Only the gamefish swims upstream."

-- Dr. Todd

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