When tulips bloom in
And timid breaths of vernal air
Are wandering down the dusty town,
Like children lost in Vanity Fair;
When every long, unlovely
Of westward houses stands aglow
And leads the eyes toward sunset skies,
Beyond the hills where green trees grow;
Then weary is the street
And weary books, and weary trade:
I’m only wishing to go a-fishing;
For this the month of May was made.
I guess the pussy-willows
Are creeping out on every bough
Along the brook; and robins look
For early worms behind the plough.
The thistle-birds have
changed their dun
For yellow coats to match the sun;
And in the same array of flame
The Dandelion Show’s begun.
The flocks of young
Are dancing round the budding trees:
Who can help wishing to go a-fishing
In days as full of joy as these?
I think the meadow-lark’s
Leaks upward slowly from the ground,
While on the wing the bluebirds ring
Their wedding-bells to woods around:
The flirting chewink
calls his dear
Behind the bush; and very near,
Where water flows, where green grass grows,
Song-sparrows gently sing, “Good cheer:”
And, best of all, through
The hermit-thrush repeats his psalm:
How much I’m wishing to go a-fishing
In days so sweet with music’s balm!
’Tis not a proud
desire of mine;
I ask for nothing superfine;
No heavy weight, no salmon great,
To break the record, or my line:
Only an idle little
Whose amber waters softly gleam,
Where I may wade, through woodland shade,
And cast the fly, and loaf, and dream:
Only a trout or two,
From foaming pools, and try my art:
No more I’m wishing—old-fashioned fishing,
And just a day on Nature’s heart.
A river is the most human and companionable of all inanimate things. It has a life, a character, a voice of its own, and is as full of good fellowship as a sugar-maple is of sap. It can talk in various tones, loud or low, and of many subjects, grave and gay. Under favourable circumstances it will even make a shift to sing, not in a fashion that can be reduced to notes and set down in black and white on a sheet of paper, but in a vague, refreshing manner, and to a wandering air that goes
“Over the hills and far away.”
For real company and friendship, there is nothing outside of the animal kingdom that is comparable to a river.