Fishy Reveries - Prologue

If you were to make little fishes talk, they would talk like whales.
Oliver Goldsmith (1728–74), Anglo-Irish author, poet, playwright. Quoted in: James Boswell, Life of Samuel Johnson, entry for 27 April 1773 (1791), to Johnson.1

All I have ever known is the stream.  
The stream sings to me.
The streamsong is in the blood, is the blood,
the great yearning.
The song of the stream, the song of the birds;
both heterophonies decay sweetly in the distance,
into dissonance, the dissonance of wind,
the polyrhythms of shattering rain in summer shade trees.

The rush of the stream's ecstatic waters,
sometimes underground sometimes falling,
the hungry rush to the goal,
which is outlet into infinite basins
and rising into sea air;
this is a drawing into and an elucidation,
it is becoming, it is being.  
The birds in their tumultuous parliaments understand this by their leavings and migrations, parturition and depart, fleeing cold or rain.

All I have ever known: I am in the stream now.  
The stream speaks to me,
there is discourse and development,
yet also the stream is a falling, tumbling mass.  
It quivers with wakefulness;
the stream is always alert though I may sleep.  
In my sleep I often see birds flying above the surface of my stream.  
They too have red fins and silver scales
and they flash against the iron sky.  
In these sleepings, I often see the birds cackling in their classes and rankings,
I feel somehow these must be discussions of great import though,
as with the stream,
their discourse is not of the common variety,
it invites only the careful ear
sensitive and willing,
its organs open to the polysemous vibrations,
the haunting and the scribbled
sounding too closely to be effectively discriminated.

All I have, ever, is the stream as it is now.  
Hellish is the devotee of the was and the will be.  
Tumbling in the same stream as I,
loathing and reviled,
cast as a devious spurner of the roe,
defiler of shallow pools in sparkling shade,
this follower of the carrion is not to be confused with you;
our confidence is with you.

All: I.  Here we have the equation
incommensurable though it may seem.  
Oscillating to the great heightening,
the great yearning,
we are unoffended by its frightening concreteness.  
We see hope for a condensation of our scattered selves that would heal the spirit;
but condensation implies a shattering,
it is our will that it be so,
we love our fate
aligning will with the stream,
the stream is our will,
we have participated in creating the stream.

In the mundane returning year
 I too will pit my will against the stream
-- loving that it be so.  
As the birds pit wing muscle against the wind
...the planet wind,
there are planets in the wind.  
Black Saturn claims dozens in the windwars;
the headwind sweeps them away,
I have heard the planet's ways...

About this poem

This is the Prologue to a much longer poem that is a Romance and Pastoral. It contrasts two styles of language: a "purple" stream-of-consciousness style, seen here, and a degree zero style in other sections.

Font size:
Collection  PDF     

Written on February 13, 1980

Submitted by johnp.96864 on November 27, 2022

Modified on March 24, 2023

2:48 min read

Quick analysis:

Scheme ab cdeFxxgx xfxhxbfx idxxaxcajxkcdxfhxe idjxkxll bcfFaxfkxcxc xckgggaxfx
Closest metre Iambic pentameter
Characters 2,883
Words 559
Stanzas 7
Stanza Lengths 2, 8, 8, 18, 8, 12, 10

John G. Purdy

JG Purdy is an IT Consultant, Writer and Composer residing in Montreal. He has a B.A. Eng. Lit from McGill University. He has a long-standing interest in Music and Language and the interaction and reltionship between the two. more…

All John G. Purdy poems | John G. Purdy Books

1 fan

Discuss the poem "Fishy Reveries - Prologue" with the community...



    Find a translation for this poem in other languages:

    Select another language:

    • - Select -
    • 简体中文 (Chinese - Simplified)
    • 繁體中文 (Chinese - Traditional)
    • Español (Spanish)
    • Esperanto (Esperanto)
    • 日本語 (Japanese)
    • Português (Portuguese)
    • Deutsch (German)
    • العربية (Arabic)
    • Français (French)
    • Русский (Russian)
    • ಕನ್ನಡ (Kannada)
    • 한국어 (Korean)
    • עברית (Hebrew)
    • Gaeilge (Irish)
    • Українська (Ukrainian)
    • اردو (Urdu)
    • Magyar (Hungarian)
    • मानक हिन्दी (Hindi)
    • Indonesia (Indonesian)
    • Italiano (Italian)
    • தமிழ் (Tamil)
    • Türkçe (Turkish)
    • తెలుగు (Telugu)
    • ภาษาไทย (Thai)
    • Tiếng Việt (Vietnamese)
    • Čeština (Czech)
    • Polski (Polish)
    • Bahasa Indonesia (Indonesian)
    • Românește (Romanian)
    • Nederlands (Dutch)
    • Ελληνικά (Greek)
    • Latinum (Latin)
    • Svenska (Swedish)
    • Dansk (Danish)
    • Suomi (Finnish)
    • فارسی (Persian)
    • ייִדיש (Yiddish)
    • հայերեն (Armenian)
    • Norsk (Norwegian)
    • English (English)


    Use the citation below to add this poem to your bibliography:


    "Fishy Reveries - Prologue" STANDS4 LLC, 2023. Web. 21 Sep. 2023. <>.

    Become a member!

    Join our community of poets and poetry lovers to share your work and offer feedback and encouragement to writers all over the world!

    September 2023

    Poetry Contest

    Join our monthly contest for an opportunity to win cash prizes and attain global acclaim for your talent.



    Are you a poetry master?

    The author of a poem is called ______.
    • A. Author
    • B. Poet
    • C. Speaker
    • D. Writer