WHEN THIS OLD GUN WAS NEW a Poem
WHEN THIS OLD GUN WAS NEW
WHEN this old gun was new
'Twas in life's youthful time,
When flowing locks were golden-brown
That now are white with time.
When skies were bright and meadows green,
Days all too short for play,
And precious was each moment
Of the weekly holiday!
Ah, then when first the flush of dawn
Lit up the eastern sky,
How joyous from the garden gate
Out to the fields to fly !
Sometime with little slender rod
With line of silken strand,
We'd seek the winding river's marge,
A gay, exultant band.
Sometime we'd seek the old mill-pond,
Down where the trees leaned o'er,
Where water-lilies were afloat,
And cat-tails lin'd the shore,
To cast for chub, or perch, or trout,
Or pike, or yellow bream,
And fill our wicker baskets
With treasures of the stream.
But greater yet the joy to lift
This old gun from the wall
And pass forth where the piny woods
Rose shadowy and tall.
For there the blue wood-pigeons flew,
There on wild berries fed,
And when this little gun outspoke
How many were the dead!
'Twas but a simple flint-lock thing,
Long ere the cap and cone,
But still its powers seem'd marvellous,
And the gun was all our own.
How precious seem'd our powder store,
Precious as sands of gold,
Our shot-bag was a treasury
Of leaden wealth untold!
Since then full many years have sped,
We've hunted far and near,
But never was such sporting joy
As in that earliest year.
A costlier weapon we have swung,
The smart breechloader borne,
But none so dear-belov'd as this,
The child-gun, bruis'd and worn!
McLellan, Isaac. Poems of the Rod and Gun. New York: Henry Thorpe, 1886.
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