The Microscopic Trout and the Machiavelian Fisherman

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The Microscopic Trout and the Machiavelian Fisherman
by Guy Wetmore Carryl
This poem was published in Wetmore’s 1898 anthology Fables for the Frivolous, which are parodies of Aesop's Fables

A fisher was casting his flies in a brook,
      According to laws of such sciences,
With a patented reel and a patented hook
      And a number of other appliances;
And the thirty-fifth cast, which he vowed was the last
      (It was figured as close as a decimal),
Brought suddenly out of the water a trout
      Of measurements infinitesimal.

This fish had a way that would win him a place
      In the best and most polished society,
And he looked at the fisherman full in the face
      With a visible air of anxiety:
He murmered “Alas!” from his place in the grass,
      And then, when he’d twisted and wriggled, he
Remarked in a pet that his heart was upset
      And digestion all higgledy-piggledy.

“I request,” he observed, “to be instantly flung
      Once again in the pool I’ve been living in.”
The fisherman said, “You will tire out your tongue.
      Do you see any signs of my giving in?
Put you back in the pool? Why, you fatuous fool,
      I have eaten much smaller and thinner fish.
You’re not salmon or sole, but I think, on the whole,
      You’re a fairly respectable dinner-fish.”

The fisherman’s cook tried her hand on the trout
      And with various herbs she embellished him;
He was lovely to see, and there isn’t a doubt
      That the fisherman’s family relished him,
And, to prove that they did, both his wife and his kid
      Devoured the trout with much eagerness,
Avowing no dish could compare with that fish,
      Notwithstanding his singular meagreness.

And The Moral, you’ll find, is although it is kind
      To grant favors that people are wishing for,
Still a dinner you’ll lack if you chance to throw back
      In the pool little trout that you’re fishing for;
If their pleading you spurn you will certainly learn
      That herbs will deliciously vary ’em:
It is needless to state that a trout on a plate
      Beats several in the aquarium.