25 March 2009

Sportsmen Pen Profound Poetic Prose

[Illustration from Duck Shooting and Hunting Sketches by William C. Hazelton, 1915]

Wild Pigeons (Ectopistes Migratorius).

The Autumn sky is fleck'd with gold,
As slow the westering sun declines,
The floating clouds' ensanguin'd fold
With a resplendent glory shines;
And as the glimmering shadows creep
Across the fading landscape's breast
And o'er the purpling mountain's sweep,
The drowsy breezes sink to rest.
The roe-buck to his thicket goes,
Where dense the wood its covert throws
The red stag that had paused to drink
Beside the rivulet's plashy brink
Exhausted flings his dappled side
Along the cool, transparent tide —
'Tis there the pigeons seek the wood
To roost, a blue-wing'd, fluttering brood.
Deep in Wisconsin wilderness,
In forests dim of Michigan,
The bending boughs their bosoms press,
The air their clanging pinions fan.
So vast their numbers, hunters say
They sweep the bough and break the spray,
And oft their startled millions rise
With roar, like thunder of the skies.
Years since, in wild woods of the East,
They gathered to the harvest feast;
They swarm'd by river and by shore,
In vast flocks flew the pastures o'er;
They swept, innumerable, the plain,
Gleaning the corn-field and the grain —
Then, winging to some wood their flight,
Settled in roosting-place for night.
When emigration, toward the West,
In restless emulation press'd,
And ax and plow, and farmer's toil,
Open'd the furrows of the soil;
And myriad acres of the wheat
Yellow'd in Summer's sultry heat;
And bearded rye and golden corn
Shook their bright tresses to the morn —
Then, to these sumptuous pastures new
These wing'd, devouring robbers flew.
When June, with rose-red cheeks aglow,
Broadcast, wild strawberries doth strow;
When August, on the sun-bright hills,
With nectar the ripe blueberry fills;
O'er all the heated pasture pours
The blackberry in honied stores;
And ripens on the swinging vine
The grapes, like amethysts that shine —
Then to this rich, luxurious fare,
So prodigal, the flocks repair,
Rejoicing in the festival
That bounteous Nature yields to all.
Isaac McLellan. January 10, 1878. Forest and Stream & Rod and Gun 9(23): 1.

The Loon.

A lake dark and lonely, from Nature's own hand,
Midst high towering mountains, wild, savage and grand,
Lies hidden secure, in its framework of green,
And reflects every object — rock, forest and stream.
From its dark surface oft, at close of the day,
Comes a cry, loud and shrill, from a far distant bay.
The sweet, timid doe, from the fastnesses still,
Seeks its lone sandy shore, to wander at will;
To nip tender lily leaves, bright grasses green,
And to playfully wander, a brown forest queen.
She listens! Again comes the sound loud and clear,
In shrill clarion tones to her listening ear.
The lone hunter sleeping 'neath rough-slant of bark,
In the shade of the forest trees, sombre and dark,
Is roused from his slumber when daybreak is near;
With his head raised he listens! What sound strikes his ear?
Far off on the lake, 'mid the darkness and gloom,
He hears through the forest the cry of the loon.
With voice of a fiend comes that sound from the gloom,
Now laughing, now shrieking, like ghost from the tomb;
Now taunting, now crying, now screaming like mad,
As he rocks on the waves of the lake, free and glad.
He rouses the wolf from his brush tangled lair,
And laughs, Ha! ha! ha! in the lightning's red glare.
At crack of the rifle, down under the wave
Like a flash he is gone — to a watery grave?
No, no! See, he rises and shakes his black wing,
And he floats free as air; on the wave he is king.
Yes, king of the solitude, king of the wave,
Then hurrah for the bird so blithesome and brave.
When the Storm King's abroad and wild breakers dash,
Oh, he laughs and he screams at the thunder's loud crash;
In the elements dire he is king of the wave,
The wind and the waters his black plumage lave,
Then hurrah for the bird of the wilderness wild,
In darkness and tempest thou'rt Nature's own child.
Oh, bird of the woods and the waters so wild,
Thy praises I'll chant, thou true Nature's child.

Windsor, Conn., April 7, 1878.

Balsam. May 9, 1878. Forest and Stream & Rod and Gun 10(14): 1.


In a wide-spreading tree
A spry chickaree
With heart full of glee,
Had chattered a noisy good-morning;
And seemed in his fun
To be telling some one
Of the work he had done
His nest in the branches adorning.
A bright squirrel guest
He had brought to his nest,
And was doing his best
In showing his snug little dwelling;
He had said in his pride
He would like to reside
With her as a bride, —
And that is the tale he was telling.
So high in the beach,
So far out of reach,
So cosy for each,
And a brown-thrush too for a neighbor;
She could hear the bird sing
While nuts he would bring —
Or any sweet thing, —
And love would thus hallow his labor.
They could see the sun set,
And tell how they met,
And would never regret
The day they had started together,
To work and to play,
From danger away,
From day unto day,
Whatever the season or weather.
The gay little guest
Accepted the nest —
She thought it was best —
Where the beautiful branches were spreading;
And tho' coy and demure,
Heart willing and pure,
Said "Yes" to her wooer,
And the wood-bells rang out for a wedding.
In the wide-spreading tree
They sing "Chickaree"
With hearts full of glee,
And chatter a noisy good morning;
While he in his way,
Light-hearted and gay,
Is seeming to say,
Her love now his home is adorning.
J.C. Burnett. April 17, 1879. Forest and Stream & Rod and Gun 12(11): 1.
For Forest and Stream and Rod and Gun

The American Eagle.

Monarch of the realms supernal,
Ranging over land and sea;
Symbol of the great Republic,
Who so noble and free!
Thine the boundless fields of ether,
Heaven’s abyss unfathom’d thine,
Far beyond our feeble vision,
On thy bars its sunbeams shine!
Borne on iron-banded pinion,
On from pole to pole you sweep;
O’er sea islands, craggy mountains,
O’er the hoarse-resounding deep.
Now, thy fanning plumes o’ershadow,
Northern cliff and ice-berg grim;
Now, o’er southern, soft savannahs,
With unflagging circuits skim.
He that feeds the tender raven
And the sea bird of the rock,
Tempers the inclement breezes
To the shorn and bleating flock,
Leads thee o’er the wastes of ocean,
Guides o’er savage flood and wood,
And from bounteous nature’s store house
Feeds they clamoring, hungry brood.
O’er the mountains of Caucasus;
Over Appenine and Alp;
Over Rocky Mounts, Cordilleras;
O’er the Andes’ herbless scalp;
High above those snowy summits,
Where no living thing abides,
He, that notes the falling sparrow,
Feeds the, fosters thee, and guides.
Thou wingest where a tropic sky
Bends o’er thee its celestial dome;
Where sparkling waters greet the eye,
And gentlest breezes fan the foam;
Where spicy breath from groves of palm,
Laden with aromatic balm,
Blows over, mingled with perfume
Of luscious fruit and honeyed bloom;
Green shores, adorned with drooping woods;
Gay grottoes, island solitudes;
Savannahs, where palmettos screen
The Indian’s hut with living green,
Behold thy pinions as they sweep,
Careering in the upper deep.
Isaac McLellan. April 24, 1879. Forest and Stream 12(12): 223.

The Sea Gull.

Sea-bird! Skimmer of the wave!
Whither doth thy journey tend?
Is it to some southern shore,
Where the meadow-rushes bend,
Where the orange-blossoms blow,
Where the aloe and the palm
Flourish, and magnolias glow,
Filling all the air with balm?
Haply, is thy pilgrim wing
Flitting to some northern bar,
Where the rocky reef runs out
And the sand beach stretches far?
There in hot and silvery sand
All thy pearly eggs to lay,
There to teach thy little brood
O'er the breaking surf to play.
Haply, sailing o'er the brine,
Painted 'gainst the lurid sky;
O'er the gray horizon's verge
Thou dost even now descry
Some lone bark with shatter'd mast,
Bulwarks swept and tatter'd sail,
Fighting with the ocean blast —
Lost and shipwreck'd in the gale!
Restless, roving, lonely bird!
Wandered of the pathless seas;
Now where tropic woods are stirr'd,
Now where drifting icebergs freeze;
Seldom doth the solid shore
See thy folded pinions droop;
Only waves, that tumbling pour,
Lure thee from thy airy sweep.
Isaac McLellan. May 15, 1879. Forest and Stream & Rod and Gun 12(15): 1.
Wild Turkey. (Meleagris gallopavo.)
The purpling twilight's melting blue,
Is fading with its transient hue,
The red cloud that erewhile did float
The heavenly vault like painted boat,
Now with a denser shadow creeps
Across the darkening upper deeps.
The glow that late the river's tide
With its encrimonson'd blushes dyed,
Hath vanish'd, and the rushing flood
Flow gloomy past the bordering wood;
Now to their roosts wild turkeys stray,
And ambush'd hunters seek their prey.
This wandering, shy, secluded bird,
This roamer of the forest-ground,
Thro' all the western wilderness,
In dense, embowering haunt is found.
In all the groves that shade the shores,
Of Mississippi's swelling flood,
And where the grand Missouri pours,
Thro' every dim and tangled wood,
In multitudes immense they roam
Afar from human step and home.
So shy, that scarce the hunter's gun
May harm them, bursting on the wing,
So fleet, that scarce pursuing steed
Its rider within shot may bring;
But only may he lie in wait
Like bandit watching for his game
And lure the victims to their fate —
The whistling ball, the rifle-flame.
Seek them where gloomy shadows fall
Beneath the forests grim and tall,
In the deep alder-brakes, or where
The dark pines lift their spears in air,
And there where slow a streamlet creeps,
Or swift through bushy ravine sweeps,
Hid in the ferns that droop around,
Your call deceptive, cautious sound;
Soon you will hear the answering note,
From the embowering thickets float,
Soon will you see the noble game
Step forth — then steady be your aim!
All stratagems, all cunning wiles,
The settlers fail not to employ;
For when the springing maize-field smiles,
Their flocks the tender ears destroy.
Then trench is dug, and train is led
Of sprinkled corn along the trail,
And where the treacherous feast is spread,
The flock is swept with volleying hail.
Isaac McLellan. November 13, 1879. Forest and Stream & Rod and Gun 13(15): 1.

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