DUCK-SHOOTING IN BARNEGAT BAY a Poem
DUCK-SHOOTING IN BARNEGAT BAY
NOVEMBER with its rosy light,
November with its frosty night,
November that hath stript the woods
Far up in Northern solitudes,—
November, sharp November's here,
With its clear, crystal atmosphere.
The breeze is fresh upon the bay,
The white caps o'er the billows play;
The east wind bloweth from the seas
A brisk, invigorating breeze.
From distant shore, remotest rock,
Comes down the migratory flock.
From Baffin's Bay, from Labrador,
From Canada, those legions pour,
From where the stormy waters break
Along the vast Superior Lake,
From Winnepeg and Lake of Woods,
From Saginaw's transparent floods,
From Hudson Bay's remotest isles,
From where the Manitoba smiles,
They come, the winged armies come,
To seek in gentler climes a home.
Hark! hark! When evening's dusky gloom
Prevails, and twinkling stars illume,
And new moon curv'd like Indian bow,
Sails up the skies serene and slow,
Then fast upon the breeze of night,
Loud honking, come the wild-geese flight,
Slow circling o'er the sleeping bay
In lengthen'd file or close array;
They hover ere they sink to rest,
Wing-weary, on the water's breast.
On muddy flat by marshy sedge,
In shallows at the channel-edge,
The wild-ducks from the North and East
Innumerous gather to the feast.
Oh! far and fast theii flight hath been,
From distant stream and marshes green,
Where since the springtime's earliest days
They've linger'd, their young broods to raise,
And now the gusty north winds pour
Their winnowing pinions to our shore.
The shy black-duck voracious feeds
On the long duck-grass with its seeds,
And, as he plumes his dusky wing,
Suspicious glances round doth fling,—
He scents his foeman iu the air.
A flashing oar-blade's sudden glare,
A crackling reed, a bending grass,
Alarm them, and away they pass.
With one quick spring they upward dart,
And like an arrow-flight depart.
The whistling widgeon, from their flight
Afar, in countless flocks alight.
They skim the flats, they skirt the shore,
They shyly view the landscape o'er,
Ere on the feeding-grounds they stoop
In broken file or muster'd group;
And when the day is dark with rain,
And shrill the piping winds complain,
Their restless flocks flit to and fro,—
Now soaring high, now pitching low.
The canvas-backs from northern coast,
And red-heads, an unnumber'd host,
In watery pastures to repose
Hasten, their flagging wings to close.
The gray duck and the dipper come,
The brant-geese from the ocean-foam,
The brilliant mallard, and the teal
With eye of light and wing of steel,
All gather in the autumn day
To haunt the waters of the bay.
Hid in the sedge-grass of the shore,
The fowlers their thick ranks explore,
They anchor their decoys and wait,
Impatient, yet with joy elate;
They pour the volleying shot like rain,
And joyful number up the slain.
McLellan, Isaac. Poems of the Rod and Gun. New York: Henry Thorpe, 1886.
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