THE BLACK DRUM
"The drum is the largest fish caught with hook and line that visits the Eastern coast."—Fishes of the East Atlantic Coast.
FAR down in the South, where big cotton trees
And fragrant magnolias nod their green crests,
And with scents aromatic perfume the air,
In fair Florida, where in wood colonnades
The song-hirds their melodies, flute-like, unite,
Is an Eden of light, eternal in bloom,
There hasten, dear angler, their transports to taste!
'Tis a realm of enchantment, luxuriant with life,
So fair with its woods, the rivers, the meads,
Where birds, green as leaves and scarlet as flowers,
Enameled like gems, fly swift overhead;
Where the great crowns of cocoa-nuts tower in air
And bananas display their low-drooping flags,
Where each orchid and leaf and frill of the fern
Bright glitter, and fire-flies blaze thro' the shades,
And the frondage, snow-white, of areca palm-trees,
Like fountains gleam out in the light of the moon.
And there in the salty lagoons and the bays,
Or where the sea-surges break white on the shore,
The angler for bronze-tinted drum casts the line
And triumphs at will by strength, tackle and skill;
He is happy his fingerliugs, troutings to leave,
And gather in South a mightier prize.
At the influx of tide, drums drift in from sea
In search of Crustacea, the mollusks of sand.
From Florida borders to far up the coast,
At inlets of Jersey, at Cuttyhunk rocks;
And in Chesapeake Bay their numbers prevail,
Where anglers and spearmen are earnest to take
The black-drum, the red-drum, wherever they roam.
Their murmurs, their drumming, are heard in the deeps,
Like the dull, muffled roll of the bandsman's reveille.
Is it then a drum-warning to worlds of the sea,
Or a musical welcome to haste to the feast?
Ah, firm be your arm when a forty-pound drum
Has snapt at your bait in the flow of the tide;
He is full of the rush and the vigor of life,
With muscles inured to the combat with seas;
O angler, take heed lest he rush to the roots
Of the mangroves below, where his castle he holds.
McLellan, Isaac. Poems of the Rod and Gun. New York: Henry Thorpe, 1886.
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