John Gardiner Calkins Brainard

(1796-1828 / the United States)

The Shad Spirit. - Poem by John Gardiner Calkins Brainard

Now drop the holt, and securely nail
The horse-shoe over the door;
'T is a wise precaution, and if it should fail
It never failed before.
Know ye the shepherd that gathers his flock,
Where the gales of the Equinox blow,
From each unknown reef, and sunken rock,
In the gulf of Mexico;
While the monsoons growl, and the trade-winds bark,
And the watch-dogs of the surge
Pursue through the wild waves the ravenous shark,
That prowls around their charge?
To fair Connecticut's northernmost source,
O'er sand-bars, rapids, and falls,
The Shad Spirit holds his onward course,
With the flocks which his whistle calls.
O how shall he know where he went before?
Will he wander around for ever?
The last year's shad-heads shall shine on the shore,
To light him up the river.
And well can he tell the very time
To undertake his task —
When the pork barrel's low, he sits on the chine,
And drums on the cider cask.
Though the wind is light, the wave is white,
With the fleece of the flock that's near;
Like the breath of the breeze, he comes over the seas,
And faithfully leads them here.
And now he's passed the bolted door,
Where the rusted horse-shoe clings;
So carry the nets to the nearest shore,
And take what the Shad Spirit brings.


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Poem Submitted: Saturday, September 18, 2010



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