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Poem by Joyce Kilmer


Dave Lilly


Theres a brook on the side of Greylock that used 
to be full of trout,
But theres nothing there now but minnows; they say it is all fished 
out.
I fished there many a Summer day some twenty years ago,
And I never quit without getting a mess of a dozen or so.
There was a man, Dave Lilly, who lived on the North 
Adams road,
And he spent all his time fishing, while his neighbors reaped and 
sowed.
He was the luckiest fisherman in the Berkshire hills, I think.
And when he didnt go fishing hed sit in the tavern and drink.
Well, Dave is dead and buried and nobody cares 
very much;
They have no use in Greylock for drunkards and loafers and such.
But I always liked Dave Lilly, he was pleasant as you could wish;
He was shiftless and good-for-nothing, but he certainly could fish.
The other night I was walking up the hill from 
Williamstown
And I came to the brook I mentioned,
and I stopped on the bridge and sat down.
I looked at the blackened water with its little flecks of white
And I heard it ripple and whisper in the still of the Summer night.
And after Id been there a minute it seemed to 
me I could feel
The presence of someone near me, and I heard the hum of a reel.
And the water was churned and broken, and something was brought 
to land
By a twist and flirt of a shadowy rod in a deft and shadowy hand.
I scrambled down to the brookside and hunted all 
about;
There wasnt a sign of a fisherman; there wasnt a sign of a trout.
But I heard somebody chuckle behind the hollow oak
And I got a whiff of tobacco like Lilly used to smoke.
Its fifteen years, they tell me, since anyone 
fished that brook;
And theres nothing in it but minnows that nibble the bait off your 
hook.
But before the sun has risen and after the moon has set
I know that its full of ghostly trout for Lillys ghost to get.
I guess Ill go to the tavern and get a bottle 
of rye
And leave it down by the hollow oak, where Lillys ghost went by.
I meant to go up on the hillside and try to find his grave
And put some flowers on it -- but this will be better for Dave.



Joyce Kilmer


Joyce Kilmer's other poems:
  1. The Robe of Christ
  2. Madness
  3. In Memory
  4. The Proud Poet
  5. Queen Elizabeth Speaks


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