BALLAD OF THE OYSTERMAN
by: Oliver Wendell Holmes
MORE POEMS BY OLIVER WENDELL HOLMES
- T was a
tall young oysterman lived by the river-side,
- His shop was just upon the bank, his boat was on the tide;
- The daughter of a fisherman, that was so straight and slim,
- Lived over on the other bank, right opposite to him.
- It was the pensive oysterman that saw a lovely maid,
- Upon a moonlight evening, a-sitting in the shade;
- He saw her wave her handkerchief, as much as if to say,
- "I'm wide awake, young oysterman, and all the folks
- Then up arose the oysterman, and to himself said he,
- "I guess I'll leave the skiff at home, for fear that
folks should see;
- I read it in a story-book, that, for to kiss his dear,
- Leander swam the Hellespont,--and I will swim this here."
- And he has leaped into the waves, and crossed the shining
- And he has clambered up the bank, all in the moonlight gleam;
- Oh there were kisses sweet as dew, and words as soft as rain,--
- But they have heard her father's step, and in he leaps again!
- Out spoke the ancient fisherman,--"Oh, what was that,
- "'T was nothing but a pebble, sir, I threw into the
- "And what is that, pray tell me, love, that paddles
off so fast?"
- "It's nothing but a porpoise, sir, that's been a-swimming
- Out spoke the ancient fisherman,--"Now bring me my harpoon!
- I'll get into my fishing-boat, and fix that fellow soon."
- Down fell the pretty innocent, as falls a snow-white lamb,
- Her hair drooped round her pallid cheeks, like seaweed on
- Alas for those two loving ones! she waked not from her swound,
- And he was taken with the cramp, and in the waves was drowned;
- But Fate has metamorphosed them, in pity of their woe,
- And now they keep an oyster-shop for mermaids down below.