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Be ye a seeker of trout, dark and obscure
but with wondrous tints. Thread your native streams
through the fat and marrowy places of field
and wood. Time yourself to their meandering –
stopping to gaze upon the spotted lily.
Blend with the trees and the shadows.
Mark the meadow brooks' every glance
and dimple, how they burrow under the roots
of great willows, pause and pool at the foot
of moss-covered rocks – how the trout tarry
under high cool banks, half hiding to lurk
and spring for prey. Press on through brush
and briars, past the whistling wings
of the 'dropping snip' into the deep woods –
where the trout are black, and blacker still
the shadows under the hemlocks, all gloom
and silence. Savage, uncompromising.
Yield ye to the fascination, penetrate farther
towards the center of the mystery. Sit ye hidden.
Hunger whetted, bait your hook with the quick
and the fresh. Bait it with your heart.
“Speckled Trout” from Church of the Robin’s Ha-Ha! is what’s known as a “found poem”: it is based on the first several pages of John Burroughs’ dazzling essay of the same name.