William Makepeace Thackeray

Piscator And Piscatrix

Poem by William Makepeace Thackeray

As on this pictured page I look,
This pretty tale of line and hook
As though it were a novel-book
Amuses and engages:
I know them both, the boy and girl;
She is the daughter of the Earl,
The lad (that has his hair in curl)
My lord the County's page as.

A pleasant place for such a pair!
The fields lie basking in the glare;
No breath of wind the heavy air
Of lazy summer quickens.
Hard by you see the castle tall;
The village nestles round the wall,
As round about the hen its small
Young progeny of chickens.

It is too hot to pace the keep;
To climb the turret is too steep;
My lord the earl is dozing deep,
His noonday dinner over:
The postern-warder is asleep
(Perhaps they've bribed him not to peep):
And so from out the gate they creep,
And cross the fields of clover.

Their lines into the brook they launch;
He lays his cloak upon a branch,
To guarantee his Lady Blanche
's delicate complexion:
He takes his rapier, from his haunch,
That beardless doughty champion staunch;
He'd drill it through the rival's paunch
That question'd his affection!

O heedless pair of sportsmen slack!
You never mark, though trout or jack,
Or little foolish stickleback,
Your baited snares may capture.
What care has SHE for line and hook?
She turns her back upon the brook,
Upon her lover's eyes to look
In sentimental rapture.

O loving pair! as thus I gaze
Upon the girl who smiles always,
The little hand that ever plays
Upon the lover's shoulder;
In looking at your pretty shapes,
A sort of envious wish escapes
(Such as the Fox had for the Grapes)
The Poet your beholder.

To be brave, handsome, twenty-two;
With nothing else on earth to do,
But all day long to bill and coo:
It were a pleasant calling.
And had I such a partner sweet;
A tender heart for mine to beat,
A gentle hand my clasp to meet;—
I'd let the world flow at my feet,
And never heed its brawling.