BLACK CAT POEMS
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The Ballad of the True Sportsman
Since Walton first in sport began
To lure the scaly prey,
Was ever any Fisherman
To match with Albert Hay?
The Weakfish weep and wring their fins,
The Porgies' tails grow cold,
The Herring shiver in their tins
When Alert's name is told!
For skilled was he in wiles to take
The Salmon fierce and free,
The Muskallonge that haunt the lake,
The Cod that rove the sea.
And every port where fish abound
He knew surpassing well:
He knew Setauket-by-the-Sound
And Gloucester by the smell.
He knew Aroostook, by the by,
And went there by the train,
For most he loved to cast the fly
Upon the streams of Maine.
The bamboo rod his joy and pride,
Was supple as a lash;
His line was all of silk, his Guide
Was Tom of Allagash.
He cast four flies of feathered wing
And lucent single snell--
"Professor," "Ibis," "Grizzly King,"
And "Parmachenee Belle."
But even at the seventh cast
When that his leader sunk,
The hooks were holden hard and fast
Beneath a mossy trunk.
He tugged the line from side to side,
He bent the rod in vain.
"Yay! Play 'im, Albert!" yelled the Guide,
"Ye've caught the State o' Maine!"
What bard shall sing, in years to come,
That wondrous scene aright!
All Nature stood aghast and dumb
To view that awesome fight.
The Umbazooksus ran up-hill;
Unwonted tremors shook
Thy lake of waters clear and still,
Katahdin veiled his summit proud;
Umbagog lost its gleam,
And Fear descended like a cloud
On Ripogenus Stream.
While Ambajejus (lovely spot!)
And more of equal claims
Were all so scared they clean forgot
The way to spell their names!
Cried Tom the Guide, "Ye've met y're match
At last, as sure as Sin!"
But Albert sternly played his catch
And grimly reeled it in.
But when he viewed the weakening prize
He let his line go slack:
"The State of Maine is undersize,"
Quoth he. "We'll throw it back!
"Oh, were the State of Texas there,
Or even Arkansas--
Yeah, though my line were maiden-hair,
My rod were barley-straw--
"I should have fought that worthy foe
With all my skill and strength;
But who would catch a State below
The legal breadth and length!"
So back he came with empty creel
And told his tale to me.
And when, I ask, will Time reveal
A truer Sport than he?
poems by Arthur Guiterman