THE FLYING FISH
IN Indian Ocean, or in seas
That dash their billows upon tropic isles,
Where the perennial, soft summer time
Around the shelly beaches smiles,
The myriad tenants of the surges sweep,
Haunting the salty deep.
There the fierce cachalot and shark,
And fiercer yet dorado of the seas,
Gorgeous, enamell'd rich with silver scales,
Unite in ocean voyages.
Dorado, ruthless pirate of the wave,
Wages its war with all the finny race,
Now fleeing from its mqre gigantic foes,
Now seeking weaker victims in its chase.
And chief the little flying-fish its prey
Swimming in glittering schools across the main;
Then swift in race, pursuers and pursued
Cut the blue surface of the watery plain.
Dorado, swift as Indian shaft, pursues,
The flying fish with equal swiftness flee,
'Till wearied out by their relentless foe
They leap the waves and flutter o'er the sea,
Skimming the wave, like birds, they speed their way,
Then drop, wing-weary, helpless in the spray;
Dorado still pursues—again, again they rise,
Only to sink at last, a helpless prey.
Still other foes these winged victims meet
When skimming the blue wave in panic fright;
The albatross and tropic-bird pursue,
And with strong talons seize them in their flight.
For them no refuge in the sea remains,
No sure escape when fluttering in the air,
The cruel fish below, the savage bird above,
Prey on their shoals and find delicious fare.
The hunted hare may oft escape its foes,
But the poor flying-fish no refuge knows.
McLellan, Isaac. Poems of the Rod and Gun. New York: Henry Thorpe, 1886.
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