The Ballad Of The Oysterman

Poem By Oliver Wendell Holmes

IT was a tall young oysterman lived by the river-side,
His shop was just upon the bank, his boat was on the tide;
The daughter of a fisherman, that was so straight and slim,
Lived over on the other bank, right opposite to him.

It was the pensive oysterman that saw a lovely maid,
Upon a moonlight evening, a sitting in the shade;
He saw her wave her handkerchief, as much as if to say,
'I 'm wide awake, young oysterman, and all the folks away.'

Then up arose the oysterman, and to himself said he,
'I guess I 'll leave the skiff at home, for fear that folks should see
I read it in the story-book, that, for to kiss his dear,
Leander swam the Hellespont,--and I will swim this here.'

And he has leaped into the waves, and crossed the shining stream,
And he has clambered up the bank, all in the moonlight gleam;
Oh there were kisses sweet as dew, and words as soft as rain,--
But they have heard her father's step, and in he leaps again!

Out spoke the ancient fisherman,--'Oh, what was that, my daughter?'
''T was nothing but a pebble, sir, I threw into the water.'
'And what is that, pray tell me, love, that paddles off so fast?'
'It's nothing but a porpoise, sir, that 's been a swimming past.'

Out spoke the ancient fisherman,--'Now bring me my harpoon!
I'll get into my fishing-boat, and fix the fellow soon.'
Down fell that pretty innocent, as falls a snow-white lamb,
Her hair drooped round her pallid cheeks, like sea-weed on a clam.

Alas for those two loving ones! she waked not from her swound,
And he was taken with the cramp, and in the waves was drowned;
But Fate has metamorphosed them, in pity of their woe,
And now they keep an oyster-shop for mermaids down below.

Comments about The Ballad Of The Oysterman

There is no comment submitted by members.


2,9 out of 5
34 total ratings

Other poems of HOLMES

A Parody On “a Psalm Of Life”

Life is real, life is earnest,
And the shell is not its pen –
“Egg thou art, and egg remainest”
Was not spoken of the hen.

A Familiar Letter

YES, write, if you want to, there's nothing like trying;
Who knows what a treasure your casket may hold?
I'll show you that rhyming's as easy as lying,
If you'll listen to me while the art I unfold.

A Parting Health

YES, we knew we must lose him,--though friendship may claim
To blend her green leaves with the laurels of fame;

A Loving-Cup Song

COME, heap the fagots! Ere we go
Again the cheerful hearth shall glow;
We 'll have another blaze, my boys!

A Farewell To Agassiz

How the mountains talked together,
Looking down upon the weather,
When they heard our friend had planned his
Little trip among the Andes

A Poem. Dedication Of The Pittsfield Cemetery

ANGEL of Death! extend thy silent reign!
Stretch thy dark sceptre o’er this new domain
No sable car along the winding road