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UNDER the bridge that spans the streamó
Stream that gurgles and prattles away,
Stream that flashes with many a gleamó
The boy would pass the holiday.
I wonder if ever in all the earth
A happier heart warm'd human breast;
If ever such perfect, such rapturous mirth,
Was known as in that Eden blest!
I wonder if ever a gorgeous king,
In midst of all his jewell'd court,
Royal with sceptre and crown and ring,
Had ever such rich, ecstatic sport.

The bridge was ancient with log and beam,
And over it droop'd the willow-trees,
Dipping their catkins in the stream.
Asylum for fluttering birds and bees;
And here in this dim, secluded cave
The boy would come to muse o'er the wave.

He mus'd, for he lov'd all beauteous sights,
All sounds delicious that charm'd the place;
The insects gay, small water-sprites,
That skimm'd and circled in mazy race;
The water-ouzel flitting there,
The blue kingfisher, perch'd on spray,
Then dropping quick from leafy lair,
Shrill screaming as he seiz'd his prey.

And here the poor barefooted boy,
With tatter'd jerkin and hat of straw,
Enjoy'd the bliss, the speechless joy,
The angler's rapture, without a flaw.
He watch'd the minnow's quivering fin,
And silvery perch go swimming by,
The sunfish darting out and in,
The pickerel snap at the gaudy fly;
The little shiner, like diamond spark,
Shoot through the waters deep and dark,
And the trout, like glancing Indian shaft.
Defying even his cunning craft.

It was a pleasure to note the frog
That sat open-mouth'd on weedy log;
To note the turtles, all speckled o'er,
Bask on the slippery rocks of the shore;
The muskrats paddling in sluggish play,
And mink and the otter on their way.

It was pleasant when hot midsummer days
Scorch'd earth and air with fervid blaze,
When the very atmosphere seem'd to swoon
With the drowsy influence of the noon,
To sit in his hermit cell and share
The voices of nature in the air;
The chirp of the cricket in the grass,
The snap of the grasshoppers as they pass,
The anthems of song-birds in the hedge,
The whistle of snipe across the sedge,
And all the entrancing symphonies
Of breeze and of wave, of birds and beesó
All paintings of nature's matchless art.
All music of nature that thrills the heart.

McLellan, Isaac. Poems of the Rod and Gun. New York: Henry Thorpe, 1886.

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