THE YELLOW PERCH
LIGHT laughs the morn of June; soft bends the sky,
One boundless sea of azure, save where fleck'd
By sailing cloud, slow flitting o'er its space. It's the school-child's holiday.
He hears Far off the call to field and wood and brook;
He hears the hollow plash of waterfall,
The murmur of the river's full-brimm'd tide,
The songs of birds, the rustle of the leaves,
And all the joyous sounds of rural life.
With rod in hand he seeks the winding brook,
In dim secluded hollow of the wood,
Or treads the weedy, willow-girdled marge
Of lonely inland waters, or the shore
Of mountain brook, uushadow'd by a tree,
Where brawls the crystal tide o'er sands and stones.
Leaning on mossy rock, at edge of pond,
Screen'd by the shadow of some drooping tree,
The golden hours slip by. Around him swim
His prey,- the spangled perch, so rough with scales,
Gorgeous with olive back and russet zones
That gird them round, and sparkling yellow sides.
When far advanc'd the summer, the shy perch
Forsakes the dim and amber-tinted deeps,
To seek the clear and colder tides at edge
Of whirling eddies and of ripples swift,
And there pursues the minnows as they glide.
When the green water-weeds mature in growth,
Hid in their friendly shade he loves to lurk.
He loves the grassy bottoms, but when first
The nipping black-frost cuts the fading weeds,
And wither'd are the submerg'd water plants,
Those yellow shoals to river-deeps retire.
Wide o'er the world the red-perch finds a home
In varied climates. In the grandest streams
Whose currents gladden European realms,
Far up beyond the influence of tides,
And in the tiniest rivulet that creeps
And trickles down the Alpine mountain slopes,
They still abound in legions infinite.
The school-child loves them well. No sluggish pond
Where clangs and toils the churning water-wheel,
No darksome pool beneath the leaning dam,
No brimming river and no crystal brook
Where range the gorgeous perch, are unexplor'd.
They love the open sparkling stream that sweeps
By grassy meadow and by daisied field;
But when the blazing heats of midsummer
Burn fervid o'er the surface of the Wane,
They seek for haunt the checker'd leafy screen
By the o'er-leaning willow branches made;
But when the rosy twilight fades apace,
And evening drops her purple curtains 'round,
The swarming school swims joyous forth again,
To seek the open stream's wide-spread expanse.
McLellan, Isaac. Poems of the Rod and Gun. New York: Henry Thorpe, 1886.
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