Angler's song

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Angler's song  (before 1653) 
by William Basse
A song about fishing written for Basse's friend Izaak Walton. The poem was published in the first edition of Walton's The Compleat Angler, in 1653. Piscator (Walton) says that the song "was lately made at my request" by Basse. He sings it to his friend Coridon who says "we are all beholding to the good man that made this song" and proposes a toast to the poet.[1]


As inward love breeds outward talk,
The Hound some praise, and some the Hawk
Some, better pleas'd with private sport,
Use Tennis; some a Mistress court:
But these delights I neither wish,
Nor envy, while I freely fish.

Who hunts, doth oft in danger ride;
Who hawks, lures oft both far & wide;
Who uses games, may often prove
A loser; but who falls in love,
Is fettered in fond Cupid's snare:
My Angle breeds me no such care.

Of Recreation there is none
So free as fishing is alone;
All other pastimes do no less
Than mind and body both possess;
My hand alone my work can do.
So I can fish and study too.

I care not, I, to fish in seas.
Fresh rivers best my mind do please.
Whose sweet calm course I contemplate.
And seek in life to imitate;
In civil bounds I fain would keep
And for my past offenses weep.

And when the timorous Trout I wait
To take, and he devours my bait.
How poor a thing, sometimes I find,
Will captivate a greedy mind;
And when none bite, I praise the wise
Whom vain allurements ne'er surprise.

But yet, though while I fish I fast,
I make good fortune my repast;
And thereunto my friend invite,
In whom I more than that delight:
Who is more welcome to my dish.
Then to my Angle was my fish.

As well content no prize to take,
As use of taken prize to make;
For so our Lord was pleased, when
He Fishers made Fishers of men;
Where (which is in no other game)
A man may fish and praise his name.

The first men that our Saviour dear
Did choose to wait upon him here,
Blest Fishers were; and fish the last
Food was, that he on earth did taste:
I therefore strive to follow those
Whom he to follow him hath chose.

This work was published before January 1, 1923, and is in the public domain worldwide because the author died at least 100 years ago.
 


Notes[edit]

  1. Warwick Bond, R., The Poetical Works of William Basse, London: Bell, 1893, pp.123.