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Poem by Menella Bute Smedley

A Day's Fishing

Down by the pier, when the sweet morn is blowing,
Slips from her moorings the fisher's light bark,
Sends up her ringing sails while she is going,
Spread on the skies like the wings of the Dark!

Treads very timidly, pauses, grows bolder,
Parts the soft wave like a tress from her brows,
Turns, like a girl looking over her shoulder,
Poised in the dance, as she passes and bows.
There, while his slow net is swinging and sinking,
There sits the fisher, a busy man he;
There, too, his little son, looking and thinking,
Dumb with the joy of his first day at sea.

He thinks there are flowers for his small hands to gather,
Down far below, if he only could dive;
He thinks that the fishes are friends of his father,
And flock to his net like the bees to a hive.
He thinks that their yawl is a fortress unfailing,
And, should he fall out, why, for certain he floats;
He thinks that the sea was created for sailing,
And wonders why spaces are left without boats.

He thinks that God made the salt water so bitter
Lest folk should grow thirsty and drain the big cup;
He thinks that the foam makes a terrible litter,
And wonders the mermaids don't sweep it all up.
He thinks if his father were half a life younger,
What fun they might have with the coils of that rope;
He thinksjust a littleof cold and of hunger,
And homejust a littlecomes into his hope.

He fancies the hours are beginning to linger,
Then looks with a pang at the down-dropping light,
And touches the sail with his poor little finger,
And thinks it won't do for a blanket to-night.
The waves all around him grow blacker and vaster,
He fears in his soul they are losing their way;
The darkness is hunting him faster and faster,
And the man there sits watching him, gloomy and grey.

Oh! is it his father? Oh! where are they steering?
The changes of twilight are fatal and grim;
And what is the place they are rapidly nearing,
And whence are these phantoms so furious and dim?
He is toss'd to the shore,in a moment they grasp him,
One moment of horror, that melts into bliss!
It is but the arms of his mother that clasp him,
His sobs and his laughter are lost in her kiss.

Softly she welcomes her wandering treasure,
And were you afraid? Have I got you again?
Forget all the pain that came after your pleasure,
In the rest and the peace that come after your pain. 

Menella Bute Smedley

Menella Bute Smedley's other poems:
  1. The Little Fair Soul
  2. A Prayer for One Beloved
  3. The Little Queen
  4. The Tournament
  5. The Lay of King James I in his Captivity

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