I remember those gay dawnings when life was fresh and new,
The rising mist above the vale, the skies of heavenly blue,
The old embowering groves kiss'd by the newborn day,
The dew-wet twinkling grass, the wayside wild-flowers gay.
I remember the footpath that to the brooklet led,
The hazel-copse that o'er the lane a leafy arbor spread;
The meadows rolling far their billowy waves of green,
THe upland pasture-lands, the valleys so serene,
And dearest spot, the little brook that runs so wild a race,
Its pebbles white, its yellow sand, its merry dimpled face.
And here my little hazel rod was swinging above the brook,
The line was cast in rippling whirl or in the shaded nook;
For here the spangled sun-fish were tenants of the pool,
Now darting singly in their play, now swarming in a school.
It may be that the angler, equipped with tackle fine,
With silver reel and bamboo rod, and woven-silken line,
Who takes the springing trout and sea bass by the score;
Or brings to gaff the salmon, along the ocean shore,
Hath joy ineffable, and vast success to boast,
At Adirondack lakes, or Labrador's pale coast.
But never may his victories, at brook or salty tide,
Yield joy like that of boyhood, such glory and such pride,
Such transports as enchant him, beside the woodland stream,
His spoil the little sunfish, his pride the yellow bream.
Ah, never was such glory, such ecstasy of bliss,
Or such delirious rapture, such triumphant spoil as this!
When all the grass was spangled, with finny leaping gems,
Gems strung like precious rubies, on supple willow stems.
They say, my little friend, that the ripple of the stream,
With thy vermillion beauty, may no longer gleam.
That the golden yellow sides, that shine like sunset glow,
Or the colors intermingled in the showery rainbow,
May never more be seen where the crystal waters glide,
The clear, pellucid waters that o'er the shallows slide.
They say thou art a pirate, a brigand that doth slay
The eggs and youth of choicer fish that in the waters play;
I know not if such charges for outlawry be true,
But none the less my sympathies shall ever be with you.