Verse > Anthologies > James and Mary Ford, eds. > Every Day in the Year
James and Mary Ford, eds.  Every Day in the Year.  1902.
January 17
St. Anthony’s Sermon to the Fishes
ST. ANTHONY at church
Was left in the lurch,
So he went to the ditches
And preached to the fishes;
They wriggled their tails,        5
In the sun glanced their scales.
The carps, with their spawn,
Are all hither drawn;
Have opened their jaws,
Eager for each clause.        10
  No sermon beside
  Had the carps so edified.
Sharp-snouted pikes,
Who keep fighting like tikes,
Now swam harmonious        15
To hear St. Antonious.
  No sermon beside
  Had the pikes so edified.
And that very odd fish,
Who loves fast days, the cod-fish—        20
The stock-fish, I mean—
At the sermon was seen.
  No sermon beside
  Had the cods so edified.
Good eels and sturgeon,        25
Which aldermen gorge on,
Went out of their way
To hear preaching that day.
  No sermon beside
  Had the eels so edified.        30
Crabs and turtles also,
Who always move slow,
Made haste from the bottom,
As if the devil had got ’em.
  No sermon beside        35
  Had the crabs so edified.
Fish great and fish small,
Lords, lackeys, and all,
Each looked at the preacher,
Like a reasonable creature:        40
  At God’s word,
  They Anthony heard.
The sermon now ended,
Each turned and descended;
The pikes went on stealing,        45
The eels went on eeling;
  Much delighted were they,
  But preferred the old way.
The crabs are backsliders,
The stock-fish thick-siders,        50
The carps are sharp-set,
All the sermon forget:
  Much delighted were they,
  But preferred the old way.

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