FLORIDA SCENES AND SPORTS a Poem
FLORIDA SCENES AND SPORTS
"Nowhere in our broad country can the angler find greater variety of game, or more or better sport than on the coasts of Florida."—S. C. Clarke, in "The Fishes of the East Atlantic Coast."
HERE in my Northern home I love to muse,
Fair Florida, on all thy sumptuous scenes;
In fancy tread savannas that engird,
With flowery circles, thy embowering woods;
Walk 'neath a vaulted roof of sinilax wreaths,
Thro' dense lianas that entangle feet,
To pluck th' hydrangea's rosy-tinted tufts,
The dahlias, asters, and the starry flox.
The fairest plants that in our garden grow,
Spontaneous here from Nature's urn they pour,
Water'd by dews, by tropic sunbeams warm'd.
Here is the sportsman's paradise, the realm
Of fowler's triumphs and the angler's joy,
Where screaming wild-fowl o'er the marshes speed,
Or swarm by sea-beach or the salt lagoon,
Where in the currents by the mangrove-isles
Swim gamey fishes, dear to angler's heart.
Here wolf and wild-cat and the prowling bear
The thick fastnesses of the waste invade,
In coppice dense the stately turkey stalks,
The russet quail o'er open stubbles flies,
And by the sandy beach or lonely marsh
The curlews whistle, golden plover call,
And every salt lagoon and bend of stream
Re-echoes quack of duck, or honk of goose,
Or hoarse, discordant clamor of the swan,
While by the shores the red flamingoes move,
Or silent stand like sentinels on guard.
Ah! gentle angler, how profuse the spoil
That fills the river deeps, the channel tides!
Haste with thy tackle and the pliant rod,
To cast thy luring fly, thy mullet bait.
Thick by the mangrove-isles the black drum bask,
Thick by the grassy shore cavalle swim,
Thick 'neath the glossy leaves of water-oak
The channel-bass, the tarpum and the spot
Flash thro' the tides, or sportive leap in air.
The naturalist here walks in thoughtful mood,
His heart responsive throbbing with the joy;
The angler with ineffable delight
Beholds each form and hue of nature's gifts,
Insect and bird, and floral offerings.
He stops to hear the insects' murmurous hum,
Or watch some basking reptile as he clings
To the tree-bark, a lizard many-hued;
He notes wing'd creatures hovering o'er the flower,
Quivering and balanc'd, winnowing their wings,
Like color'd flowerets blossomed on the stalk,
While flowers themselves like living insects seem.
He sees the gay-hued snakes like ribbons twine,
Coil'd in green nooks, and serpents beautiful,
That glittering slide and vanish from the sight;
Brown squirrels frisk and peep among the boughs,
While cooing doves and distant parrot cries
Fill with soft sounds the spaces of the air.
Such the fair scenes the sportsman-tourist views,
That thrill with glad surprise the angler's heart.
McLellan, Isaac. Poems of the Rod and Gun. New York: Henry Thorpe, 1886.
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