FISHING FOR ALBICORE IN THE SOUTH PACIFIC a Poem
FISHING FOR ALBICORE IN THE SOUTH PACIFIC
THE whale-ship speeds upon her foamy way,
And all around the measureless ocean spreads
Its vast expanse of the white-crested waves.
No whales in sight, no spouting jets to call
Our listless crew to man the idle boat;
So all collect on spar and bulwark-side
To view a scene that animates the deep.
In air above the giant albatross
Swings in great wings; the blue cape-pigeons skim
The azure plain; the circling frigate-bird
Plies its long pinions, hungry for the prey;
The little pilot-fish leap at the prow,
And vast shoals of the flying-fish arise,
And flit in air pursued by foes below
And greedy birds that hover in the air.
The glittering dolphin, its remorseless foe.
Follows the frighten'd shoal till they emerge
In air, with vibratory fin and wavering flight;
Then swift the dolphin, like a streak of flame,
Darts thro' the brine, and snaps them as they fall.
Their deadliest foe, the savage albicore,
That fierce sea-tiger, preys upon their shoals.
The slaughter of the albicore, when herded thick
Around the ship, by sword-fish foes pursued,
Yields to the seaman most enchanting sport.
When blows the breeze the sailor takes his perch
Upon the swinging mizzen-boom astern,
His tackle a three-stranded line, his lure
A clumsy hook, on whose long shank revolves
A pearl-shell plate, with wings of fluttering cloth,
That well may simulate a flying-fish.
He casts his line far o'er the seething brine,
He skips the shining lure from wave to wave,
And with oar-harden'd grasp awaits the rise.
The glittering albicore are thick around,
Till one more hungry, with a splendid spring,
A dash, a splash, a leap, secures the bait.
Ah, what a rise is this! The rushing ship
Cuts thro' the deep with " bone of foam" in teeth,
The angler swaying on the unsteady spar;
The fish, with thrice the strength of salmon, leaps,
Struggles, and glances through the salt abyss,
And then, exhausted, yields his bleeding life,
And lies on deck a blue and silvery mass.
Such the grand sport of ocean, that doth shame
The puny pastimes of the lake and stream.
McLellan, Isaac. Poems of the Rod and Gun. New York: Henry Thorpe, 1886.
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