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The Angler -- Thomas Buchanan Read

(Poem #359) The Angler
  But look! o'er the fall see the angler stand,
  Swinging his rod with skilful hand;
  The fly at the end of his gossamer line
      Swims through the sun like a summer moth,
  Till, dropt with a careful precision fine,
      It touches the pool beyond the froth.
  A-sudden, the speckled hawk of the brook
  Darts from his cover and seizes the hook.
  Swift spins the reel; with easy slip
  The line pays out, and the rod like a whip,
  Lithe and arrowy, tapering, slim,
  Is bent to a bow o'er the brooklet's brim,
  Till the trout leaps up in the sun, and flings
  The spray from the flash of his finny wings;
  Then falls on his side, and, drunken with fright,
      Is towed to the shore like a staggering barge,
      Till beached at last on the sandy marge,
  Where he dies with the hues of the morning light,
  While his sides with a cluster of stars are bright.
  The angler in his basket lays
  The constellation, and goes his ways.
-- Thomas Buchanan Read
The most notable feature of today's poem is its vividness - the colours, the
textures, the play of light are all captured with elegance and economy, and
it is no great surprise to learn that Read was primarily a painter. As
longtime readers of Minstrels are doubtless aware, I greatly enjoy such
poetry, especially when combined with the wonderfully flowing verse Read has
attained in today's piece. Throw in some lovely imagery and some nice studies
in contrast, and you have a poem that is a pleasure both to read and to
recite - a poem that will never, perhaps, take its place among the immortal
greats, but one that I was nonetheless glad to have encountered.

Biography and Assessment

  (1822-1872) Poet and painter. Born in Chester County, Pennsylvania. Spent
  his later years in Rome and Florence. Painted Thackeray and Browning.
  Became a writer at Longfellow's urging. Works include Poems (1847); Lays
  and Ballads (1848); "Sheridan's Ride" (poem); "Drifting" (poem); and "The
  Closing Scene" (poem).

    -- [broken link]

  The latest production of Mr. Read, published in Philadelphia in 1855,
  during the author's residence in Italy, The New Pastoral, is the most
  elaborate of his compositions. It is a series of thirty-seven sketches,
  forming a volume of two hundred and fifty pages, mostly in blank verse.
  The thread which connects the chapters together is the emigration of a
  family group of Middle Pennsylvania to the Mississippi. The description of
  their early residence; the rural manners and pursuits; the natural scenery
  of their home; the phenomena of the seasons; the exhibitions of religious,
  political, and social life; the school; the camp meeting; the election;
  Independence Day, with an elevating love theme in the engagement of a
  village maiden to a poetic lover in Europe; the incidents of the voyage on
  the Ohio, with frequent episodes and patriotic aspirations, are all
  handled with an artist's eye for natural and moral beauty. The book
  presents a constant succession of truthful, pleasing images, in the
  healthy vein of the Goldsmiths and Bloomfields.

  The characteristics we have noted describe Mr. Read's poems in his several
  volumes, which have exhibited a steady progress and development, in the
  confidence of the writer, in plain and simple objects, in strength of
  fancy and poetic culture.

    -- [broken link]

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