The Bluefish

Isaac McLellan
(Pomatomus Saltatrix.)

It is a brave, a royal sport, 
   Trolling for bluefish o'er the seas; 
Fair skies and soaring gulls above, 
   A steady blowing breeze; 
A shapely yacht whose foaming prow 
   The billowy plain divides, 
That like a gallant courser speeds 
   Far, free o'er ocean tides. 

First from West India seas they came, 
   Haunting the Cuban coast, 
Cruel as Spanish buccaneers, 
   A fierce, rapacious host. 
But now by Northern seaboard shores 
   Their murderous way they take, 
From Mexic Gulf to Labrador, 
   Wherever billows break. 
The weaker tenants of the main 
Flee from their rage in vain, 
The vast menhaden multitudes 
   They massacre o'er the flood; 
With lashing tail, with snapping teeth 
   They stain the tides with blood. 

Rakish are they, like pirate craft, 
   All matchless to assail, 
With graceful, shapely, rounded sides 
   And the sharp, forked tail; 
And when the angler's hook is fixed 
   They fight, they struggling bleed, 
Now leaping high, now plunging deep, 
   Darting with lightning speed. 

And yet these sea marauders, 
   These tyrants of the main, 
By fiercer, mightier ruffians 
   Are hunted, conquered, slain; 
The tumbling porpoise hunts them, 
   Dorado fierce pursues, 
And when the shark assaileth, 
   Blood-stains the waves suffuse.

More by Isaac McLellan

The Shark

(Carcharias glaucus.)


The seaboy sailing o'er the main, 
   Far-gazing o'er the watery plain, 
Sees oft the black fin of the shark 
Pursuing his careering bark, 
Quick thro' the ship the joyful news 
   Like wildfire runs from stem to stern; 
From bulwark high, from sloping mast, 
   Leeward all eager glances turn. 
The master seeks the massive hook 
   With iron chain and hempen line, 
And soon the baited snare is out 
   Far trailing o'er the seething brine. 

The greedy monster with a plunge 
   Rushes to seize the tempting bait, 
And, rolling on his dusky back, 
   Gorges the hook and finds his fate. 
Away in madden'd haste he flies, 
   Lashing the wave with forked tail, 
But 'gainst a score of tugging hands 
   His desperate strength may naught avail. 
Soon bleeding on the deck, a prize, 
The ruthless ocean tyrant dies. 
'Tis said in Indian seas remote, 
   Off the white reef of Bengal Bay, 
Cruises the great man-eater shark, 
   Hungry and keen for human prey. 
There Indian damsels dread to plunge 
   In combing surf and curling wave, 
Fearing that terror of sharp teeth, 
   That jaw remorseless as the grave. 
But brave the manly diver dares 
   With sharpen'd creese to meet his foe, 
And, plung'd beneath the lurking fiend, 
   Stabs till the tides with slaughter flow. 
So the swart diver for the pearl, 
   Taught from his youth to search the deeps, 
With keen blade meets him in the surf, 
   And slays him wheresoe'er he sweeps.