Verse > Anthologies > Edmund Clarence Stedman, ed. > An American Anthology, 1787–1900
Edmund Clarence Stedman, ed. (1833–1908).  An American Anthology, 1787–1900.  1900.
1096. An Angler’s Wish
By Henry Van Dyke

WHEN tulips bloom in Union Square,
And timid breaths of vernal air
  Go wandering down the dusty town,
Like children lost in Vanity Fair;
When every long, unlovely row        5
Of westward houses stands aglow,
  And leads the eyes towards sunset skies
Beyond the hills where green trees grow,—
Then weary seems the street parade,
And weary books, and weary trade:        10
  I ’m only wishing to go a-fishing;
For this the month of May was made.

I guess the pussy-willows now
Are creeping out on every bough
  Along the brook; and robins look        15
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.        20
The flocks of young anemones
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 clear sound
Leaks upward slowly from the ground,
  While on the wing the blue-birds ring
Their wedding-bells to woods around.
The flirting chewink calls his dear
Behind the bush; and very near,        30
  Where water flows, where green grass grows,
Song-sparrows gently sing, “Good cheer.”
And, best of all, through twilight’s calm
The hermit-thrush repeats his psalm.
  How much I ’m wishing to go a-fishing        35
In days so sweet with music’s balm!

’T is not a proud desire of mine;
I ask for nothing superfine;
  No heavy weight, no salmon great,
To break the record—or my line:        40
Only an idle little stream,
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, to dart        45
From foaming pools, and try my art:
  No more I ’m wishing—old-fashioned fishing,
And just a day on Nature’s heart.


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