The Little Fisherman

from ORIGINAL POEMS* (1868)

There was a little fellow once,
And Harry was his name,
And many a naughty trick had he—
I tell it to his shame.

boy fishing

He minded not his friends’ advice,
But follow’d his own wishes;
And one most cruel trick of his,
Was that of catching fishes.

His father had a little pond,
Where often Harry went;
And there in this unfeeling sport
He many an evening spent.

One day he took his hook and bait,
And hurried to the pond,
And there began the cruel game
Of which he was so fond.

And many a little fish he caught,
And pleased was he to look,
To see them writhe in agony,
And struggle on the hook.

At last, when having caught enough,
And also tired himself,
He hasten’d home, intending there
To put them on a shelf.

But as he jump’d to reach a dish,
To put his fishes in,
A large meat-hook, that hung close by,
Did catch him by the chin.

Poor Henry kick’d, and call’d aloud,
And scream’d, and cried, and roar’d,
While from his wound the crimson blood
In dreadful torrents pour’d.

The maids came running, frighten’d much
To see him hanging there,
And soon they took him from the hook,
And set him in a chair.

The surgeon came and stopp’d the blood,
And bound his aching head;
And then they carried him upstairs,
And laid him on his bed.

Conviction darted on his mind,
As groaning there he lay,
And with compunction then he thought
About his cruel play.

“And oh!” said he, “poor little fish,
What tortures they have borne;
While I, well pleased, have stood to see
Their tender bodies torn!

“Though fishermen must earn their bread,
And butchers too must slay,
That can be no excuse for me,
Who do the same in play.

“And now I feel how great the smart,
How terrible the pain!
I think, while I can feel myself,
I will not fish again.”

*The authors of the poems in this book were Ann Taylor (1782-1866), Jane Taylor (1783-1824); and Adelaide O’Keeffe (1776-1865), but it is unknown who wrote what. The volume was published after the deaths of all three poets.
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