Maurice Thompson

In The Haunts Of Bass And Bream

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I

Dreams come true, and everything
Is fresh and lusty in the spring.


In groves that smell like ambergris,
Wind-songs, bird-songs, never cease.


Go with me down by the stream,
Haunt of bass and purple bream;


Feel the pleasure, keen and sweet,
When the cool waves lap your feet;


Catch the breath of moss and mould,
Hear the grosbeak's whistle bold;


See the heron all alone
Midstream on a slippery stone,


Or, on some decaying log,
Spearing snail or water-frog.


See the shoals of sun-perch shine
Among the pebbles smooth and fine,


Whilst the sprawling turtles swim
In the eddies cool and dim!


II

The busy nuthatch climbs his tree,
Around the great bole spirally,


Peeping into wrinkles gray,
Under ruffled lichens gay,


Lazily piping one sharp note
From his silver mail√ęd throat;


And down the wind the catbird's song
A slender medley trails along.


Here a grackle chirping low,
There a crested vireo;


Deep in tangled underbrush
Flits the shadowy hermit-thrush;


Coos the dove, the robin trills,
The crows caw from the airy hills;


Purple finch and pewee gray,
Bluebird, swallow, oriole gay,--


Every tongue of Nature sings;
The air is palpitant with wings.


Halcyon prophecies come to pass
In the haunts of bream and bass.


III

Bubble, bubble, flows the stream,
Like an old tune through a dream.


Now I cast my silken line;
See the gay lure spin and shine,


While with delicate touch I feel
The gentle pulses of the reel.


Halcyon laughs and cuckoo cries;
Through its leaves the plane-tree sighs.


Bubble, bubble, flows the stream,
Here a glow and there a gleam;


Coolness all about me creeping,
Fragrance all my senses steeping,--


Spicewood, sweet-gum, sassafras,
Calamus and water-grass,


Giving up their pungent smells,
Drawn from Nature's secret wells;


On the cool breath of the morn,
Perfume of the cock-spur thorn,


Green spathes of the dragon-root,
Indian turnip's tender shoot,


Dogwood, red-bud, elder, ash,
Snowy gleam and purple flash,


Hillside thickets, densely green,
That the partridge revels in!


IV

I see the morning-glory's curl,
The curious star-flower's pointed whorl;


Hear the woodpecker, rap-a-tap!
See him with his cardinal's cap!


And the querulous, leering jay,
How he clamors for a fray!


Patiently I draw and cast,
Keenly expectant till, at last,


Comes a flash, down in the stream,
Never made by perch or bream;


Then a mighty weight I feel,--
Sings the line and whirs the reel!


V

Out of a giant tulip-tree
A great gay blossom falls on me;


Old gold and fire its petals are,
It flashes like a falling star.


A big blue heron flying by
Looks at me with a greedy eye.


I see a striped squirrel shoot
Into a hollow maple root;


A bumblebee with mail all rust,
And thighs puffed out with anther-dust,


Clasps a shrinking bloom about,
And draws her amber sweetness out.


VI

Bubble, bubble, flows the stream,
Like a song heard in a dream.


A white-faced hornet hurtles by,
Lags a turquoise butterfly,--


One intent on prey and treasure,
One afloat on tides of pleasure!


Sunshine arrows, swift and keen,
Pierce the burr-oak's helmet green.


VII

I follow where my victim leads
Through tangles of rank water-weeds,


O'er stone and root and knotty log,
O'er faithless bits of reedy bog.


I wonder, will he ever stop?
The reel hums like a humming top!


Through graceful curves he sweeps the line,
He sulks, he starts, his colors shine,


Whilst I, all flushed and breathless, tear
Through lady-fern and maidenhair,


And in my straining fingers feel
The throbbing of the rod and reel!


A thin sandpiper, wild with fright,
Goes into ecstasies of flight;


A gaunt green bittern quits the rushes,
The yellow-throat its warbling hushes;


Bubble, bubble, flows the stream,
Like an old tune through a dream!


VIII

At last he tires, I reel him in;
I see the glint of scale and fin.


The crinkled halos round him break,
He leaves gay bubbles in his wake.


I raise the rod, I shorten line,
And safely land him,--he is mine!


IX

The belted halcyon laughs, the wren
Comes twittering from his bushy den;


The turtle sprawls upon its log,
I hear the booming of a frog.


Liquidambar's keen perfume,
Sweet-punk, calamus, tulip-bloom;


Dancing wasp and dragon-fly,
Wood-thrush whistling tenderly;


Damp cool breath of moss and mould,
Noontide's influence manifold;


Glimpses of a cloudless sky,--
Soothe me as I resting lie.


Bubble, bubble, flows the stream,
Like low music through a dream.

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Maurice Thompson