Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Voices from the Past: A.G. O'Bryan

Here's one of my favorite Victorian poems about fishing by A.G. O'Bryan. It was published in The American Angler.

The Music of the Reel

By A. G. O'Bryan

Who hears the singing violin, forgets both place and time 

In listening to its golden strains, now joyous, now sublime. 

Yet, though I've often heard it, I never once could feel 

Such rapture as enthralls me at the music of the reel.

I've heard the grand piano by skilful fingers played;

I've seen the harp strings quiver with the melody they made;

I've heard the chimes of Trinity, the organ's solemn peal, 

Yet none of these has thrilled me like the music of the reel.

I've heard the flute and 'cello, the cornet and bassoon,

And many other instruments that sang their sweetest tune;

But not a one, it seems to me, such harmonies reveal,

As spring to life and beauty from the music of the reel.

And if a wondering earth should hear Apollo's harp once more,

Or Pan's wild notes came echoing from many a reedy shore, 

Their melodies, though half divine, would scarce to me appeal, 

If I should hear, from somewhere near, the music of the reel.

When the line is running freely and the reel sings soft and clear, 

While the fish's weakened rushes show that victory is near;

O then, what other harmony can o'er the senses steal, 

With half the charm that's flowing from the music of the reel?

And when age comes upon me, and I live but in my dreams, 

And only in sweet fancy fish the lakes and crystal streams,

My heart, if cold to many a strain that others warmly feel.

Shall throb with joy when memory hears the music of the reel.

-- Dr. Todd

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