Monday, February 02, 2009

Fishing for Poetry

It's the The Fourth Annual Bloggers' (Silent) Poetry Reading, thanks to our hostess Reya. I'm a little unclear on whether this is in honor of Brigid the saint or Brigid the goddess of fire and poetry, or both, or just because it's about time for a good poem, but I've got my black turtleneck, my beret, and my demitasse of espresso.

Late winter means John Donne for me, and on this snowy winter afternoon, his piscatoral verse "The Bait" reminds me that they'll be stocking trout very soon. For more on the subject of fishing (and beautiful women), check out Sherry Chandler's wonderful photographs of her mother's fishing adventures.

The Bait by John Donne
Come live with me, and be my love,
And we will some new pleasures prove
Of golden sands, and crystal brooks,
With silken lines and silver hooks.

There will the river whisp'ring run
Warm'd by thy eyes, more than the sun ;
And there th' enamour'd fish will stay,
Begging themselves they may betray.

When thou wilt swim in that live bath,
Each fish, which every channel hath,
Will amorously to thee swim,
Gladder to catch thee, than thou him.

If thou, to be so seen, be'st loth,
By sun or moon, thou dark'nest both,
And if myself have leave to see,
I need not their light, having thee.

Let others freeze with angling reeds,
And cut their legs with shells and weeds,
Or treacherously poor fish beset,
With strangling snare, or windowy net.

Let coarse bold hands from slimy nest
The bedded fish in banks out-wrest ;
Or curious traitors, sleeve-silk flies,
Bewitch poor fishes' wand'ring eyes.

For thee, thou need'st no such deceit,
For thou thyself art thine own bait :
That fish, that is not catch'd thereby,
Alas ! is wiser far than I.


Reya Mellicker said...

John Donne??!! YES. Classic. Thank you. I haven't read more than the first two lines in years. It's a beautiful piece.

Brigid the goddess, Brdgid the saint - what's the difference? Same Brigid, eh? One is older than the other, but they're the same.

At least I think so.

You look so sharp in that black turtleneck! Cheers!

Reya Mellicker said...

The only difference between the Brigids is my typo.

Anonymous said...

Hmmm. Now I don't know who did the original..Donne or Marlow. I'll have to look up who lived when.

The Passionate Shepherd to His Love
Christopher Marlowe

Come live with me and be my love,
And we will all the pleasures prove
That valleys, groves, hills, and fields,
Woods or steepy mountain yields.

And we will sit upon the rocks,
Seeing the shepherds feed their flocks,
By shallow rivers to whose falls
Melodious birds sing madrigals.

And I will make thee beds of roses
And a thousand fragrant posies,
A cap of flowers, and a kirtle
Embroidered all with leaves of myrtle;

A gown made of the finest wool
Which from our pretty lambs we pull;
Fair lined slippers for the cold,
With buckles of th purest gold;

A belt of straw and ivy buds,
With coral clasps and amber studs:
And if these pleasures may thee move,
Come live with me and be my love.

The shepherds' swains shall dance and sing
For thy delight each May morning:
If these delights thy mind may move,
Then live with me and be my love.

Rebecca Clayton said...

Thanks so much for doing this, Reya! It's so cool to find new poems and poets this way.

Joan, John Donne's poem is an answer to "The Passionate Shepherd to His Love"--that's why he says "we will some new pleasures prove." I think there are dozens of contemporary responses to Marlow, but Donne is the only one to offer to take a girl fishing. Gotta love him for that.