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THE RED FISHERMAN.

THE RED FISHERMAN.

Oh flesh, flesh, how art thou fishified !

Romeo and Juliet.

The abbot arose, and closed his book,

And donned his sandal shoon,
And wandered forth, alone, to look

Upon the summer moon :
A starlight sky was o'er his head,

A quiet breeze around;
And the flowers a thrilling fragrance shed,

And the waves a soothing sound :
It was not an hour, nor a scene, for aught

But love and calm delight;
Yet the holy man had a cloud of thought

On his wrinkled brow that night.
He gazed on the river that gurgled by,

But he thought not of the reeds :
He clasped his gilded rosary,

But he did not tell the beads ;
If he looked to the heaven, 'twas not to invoke

The Spirit that dwelleth there ;

If he opened his lips, the words they spoke

Had never the tone of prayer.
A pious priest might the abbot seem,

He had swayed the crosier well ;
But what was the theme of the abbot's dream,

The abbot were loth to tell.

Companionless, for a mile or more,
He traced the windings of the shore.
Oh, beauteous is that river still,
As it winds by many a sloping hill,
And many a dim o'erarching grove,
And many a flat and sunny cove,
And terraced lawns, whose bright arcades
The honeysuckle sweetly shades,
And rocks, whose very crags seem bowers,
So gay they are with grass and flowers !

But the abbot was thinking of scenery,

About as much, in sooth,
As a lover thinks of constancy,

Or an advocate of truth.

He did not mark how the skies in wrath

Grew dark above his head;
He did not mark how the messy path

Grew damp beneath his tread ;
And nearer he came, and still more near,

To a pool, in whose recess
The water had slept for many a year,

Unchanged and motionless;
From the river stream it spread away

The space of half a rood;
The surface had the hue of clay

And the scent of human blood;
The trees and the herbs that round it grew

Were venomous and foul ;
And the birds that through the buskes flew

Were the vulture and the owl;
The water was as dark and rank

As ever a Company pumped; And the perch, that was netted and laid on the bank,

Grew rotten while it jumped :
And bold was he who thither came

At midnight, man or boy ;
For the place was cursed with an evil name,

And that name was the “ The Devil's Decoy !”

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