Walton! dear Angler! when, a school-freed boy,
Of varnished rod and silken tackle proud,
I sought the brooks, or by some still deep pool,
Still, or stirred only by the gentle west—
Lay stretched at noon, and watched my trembling float,
Thou wert my sole companion; and I conned,
Studious, thy varied precepts o'er and o'er.
And though, since then, full many a taste be changed,
And me the fisher's simple sport no more
Wins from light sleep, ere yet the streaky dawn
Hath tinged the steaming wave with yellow light;
Nor keeps me lingering on the grassy brink,
Till sober night be fallen, and all lies hushed
Beneath the silent moon; save—only heard—
The stream's faint ripple, and the leaping trout.
By fits upflashing in the silvery beam,
Startling the general pause, then pressing it,
Thus interrupted, deeper on the heart;
Yet still, old man! I love the soothing power
Thy rural landscapes breathe, like vernal breeze,
Freshening the soul; I love thy pastoral songs,
Those simple chauntings of the elder time,
Thy contemplative vein, thy sweet content,
And e'en thine antique phrase hath charms for me.
And long as woods and skies and watered shores,
And spring's and summer's change and changeful hours,
Have power for pleasure—thou shalt please me still.
E'en now, when winter locks the still deep lake
In fastest frost, and stately-winding streams
Rest motionless, and prattling brooks are mute;
By my warm hearth, at evening's thoughtful hour,
I love to sit and turn thy charmèd page,
Till, answering to the gentle sorcery,
Fair images and thoughts, that slumbered long,
Of parted years awake; and, memory-led,
Once more I seem to tread the banks of Dove,
Those verdant banks—and list his water's flow,
And catch his eddies, glittering in the sun;
Breathing the freshness of a second spring,
While all my boyish days revive again.