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In Praise of Angling

Sir Henry Wotton 1568 (parish) – 1639 (chapel of Eton College)

Quivering fears, heart-tearing cares,
Anxious sighs, untimely tears,
Fly, fly to courts,
Fly to fond worldling's sports,
Where strained sardonic smiles are glossing still,
And grief is forced to laugh against her will,
Where mirth's but mummery,
And sorrows only real be.

Fly from our country pastimes, fly,
Sad troops of human misery,
Come, serene looks,
Clear as the crystal brooks,
Or the pure azured heaven that smiles to see
The rich attendance on our poverty;
Peace and a secure mind,
Which ail men seek, we only find.

Abused mortals! did you know
Where joy, heart's ease, and comforts grow?
You'd scorn proud towers,
And seek them in these bowers,
Where winds, sometimes, our woods perhaps may shake,
But blustering care could never tempest make;
Nor murmurs e'er come nigh us,
Saving of fountains that glide by us.

Here's no fantastic mask nor dance,
But of our kids that frisk and prance;
Nor wars are seen,
Unless upon the green,
Two harmless lambs are butting one the other,
Which done, both bleating run, each to his mother;
And wounds are never found,
Save what the ploughshare gives the ground.

Here are no entrapping baits
To hasten to too hasty fates;
Unless it be
The fond credulity
Of silly fish, which (worldling like) still look
Upon the bait, but never on the hook;
Nor envy, 'less among
The birds, for prize of their sweet song.

Go, let the diving negro seek
For gems, hid in some forlorn creek;
We all pearls scorn,
Save what the dewy morn
Congeals upon each little spire of grass,
Which careless shepherds beat down as they pass;
And gold ne'er here appears,
Save what the yellow Ceres bears.

Blest silent groves, O, may you be
Forever mirth's best nursery!
May pure contents
Forever pitch their tents
Upon these downs, these rocks, these mountains,
And peace still slumber by these purling fountains,
Which we may every year
Meet, when we come a-fishing here.

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Submitted on May 13, 2011

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Sir Henry Wotton

Sir Henry Wotton was an English author, diplomat and politician who sat in the House of Commons in 1614 and 1625. more…

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