The Fisherman

A fisherman wades, knee-deep in the water, 
Feeling the stones at the bottom with his feet and his fork, 
Lighting his way with an oil-fed torch of bamboo. 

And the curtain of darkness behind him, 
And the halo of light before him,
Wrap the homely-looking man and his four-pointed fork
In chimeras of unreality. 

Ringing faintly comes the song of a siren
From under the rocks where he walks. 
And the fisherman seems like the siren endowed
With the mirthless melody of waves,
Though a sound he makes not, nor speaks in the silence. 

A merman he seems, bewailing his lost and his children
At midnight (and midnight it was when he went to the shore). 
And the fork in his hand
Looks like the scepter of the king of the sea. . . .
A king, bereft of his children, 
A ruler deserted by the queen of the sea. 


From Manila: A Collection of Verse (Imp. Paredes, Inc., 1926) by Luis Dato. This poem is in the public domain.