An Old Fish Pond.

A poem by Henry Austin Dobson

Green growths of mosses drop and bead
Around the granite brink;
And 'twixt the isles of water-weed
The wood-birds dip and drink.

Slow efts about the edges sleep;
Swift-darting water-flies
Shoot on the surface; down the deep
Fast-following bubbles rise.

Look down. What groves that scarcely sway!
What "wood obscure," profound!
What jungle!--where some beast of prey
Might choose his vantage-ground!

* * * * *

Who knows what lurks beneath the tide?--
Who knows what tale? Belike,
Those "antres vast" and shadows hide
Some patriarchal Pike;--

Some tough old tyrant, wrinkle-jawed,
To whom the sky, the earth,
Have but for aim to look on awed
And see him wax in girth;--

Hard ruler there by right of might;
An ageless Autocrat,
Whose "good old rule" is "Appetite,
And subjects fresh and fat;"--

While they--poor souls!--in wan despair
Still watch for signs in him;
And dying, hand from heir to heir
The day undawned and dim,

When the pond's terror too must go;
Or creeping in by stealth,
Some bolder brood, with common blow,
Shall found a Commonwealth.

* * * * *

Or say,--perchance the liker this!--
That these themselves are gone;
That Amurath in minimis,--
Still hungry,--lingers on,

With dwindling trunk and wolfish jaw
Revolving sullen things,
But most the blind unequal law
That rules the food of Kings;--

The blot that makes the cosmic All
A mere time-honoured cheat;--
That bids the Great to eat the Small,
Yet lack the Small to eat!

* * * * *

Who knows! Meanwhile the mosses bead
Around the granite brink;
And 'twixt the isles of water-weed
The wood-birds dip and drink.

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