Poetry Corner

With the fishing season opening this weekend, the following pastoral seems appropriate.

The Anglers Wish

By Izaak Walton (1593-1683)

I in these flowery Meads wou’d be

These Chrystal streams should solace me:

To whose harmonious bubbling noise,

I with my Angle wo’d rejoice

   Sit here and see the Turtle-Dove,

   Court his chaste Mate to acts of love:

Or on that bank, feel the west wind

Breath health and plenty, please my mind

To see sweet dew-drops kiss these flowers,

And then, washt off by April-showers:

   Here hear my Kenna* sing a song,

   There see a Black-bird feed her young,

Or a Leverock build her nest;

Here, give my weary spirits rest,

And raise my low pitch thoughts above

Earth, or what poor mortals love:

   Thus free from Law-suits, and the noise

   Of Princes Courts I wou’d rejoice.

Or with my Bryan, and a book,

Loyter long days near Shawford-brook;

There sit by him, and eat my meat,

There see the Sun both rise and set:

There bid good morning to next day,

There meditate my time away:

   And angle on, and beg to have

   A quiet passage to a welcome grave.

In the public domain.

* Soon after Walton’s first wife died in 1640, Walton married Anne Ken, his “Kenna”.

About the poem: One of many verses appearing in The Compleat Angler (1653) a book he revised and republished five times over the next 25 years.

Izaak Walton, 1672

About the poet: Born in Staffordshire, in the West Midlands of England, Walton moved to London during his teens and eventually established a linen drapery shop on Fleet Street. During this time he became friends with John Donne, the poet who had become vicar of the St. Dunstan’s church near his business. After the defeat of the Royalists and the exile of Charles II in 1644, Walton moved back to Staffordshire and purchased a farm alongside a small river. With this property supplying ample income, he returned to London in 1650 and spent the remaining forty years of his life fishing, visiting eminent clergymen and others who enjoyed fishing, and writing/publishing The Compleat Angler plus biographies of his angling friends, John Donne, Sir Henry Wotton, Mr. George Herbert.

Walton’s legacy includes the Izaak Walton League of America, an organization currently celebrating its 100th year of conserving, restoring, and promoting the sustainable use and enjoyment of our natural resources, including soil, air, woods, waters, and wildlife.

Leave a Reply