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the poetry of fly fishing

the close of autumn

william cullen bryant

The melancholy days are come, the saddest of the year,

Of wailing winds and naked woods and meadows brown and sere.

Heap’d in the hollows of the grove the wither’d leaves lie dead,

They rustle to the eddying gust and to the rabbit’s tread.

The robin and the wren are flown, and from the shrubs the jay,        

And from the wood top calls the crow, through all the gloomy day.


Where are the flowers, the fair young flowers, that lately sprung and stood,

In brighter light and softer airs, a beauteous sisterhood?

Alas! they all are in their graves—the gentle race of flowers

Are lying in their lowly beds, with the fair and good of ours:        

The rain is falling where they lie—but the cold November rain

Calls not from out the gloomy earth the lovely ones again.


The windflower and the violet, they perish’d long ago,

And the brier-rose and the orchis died, amid the summer’s glow;

But on the hill the golden rod, and the aster in the wood,        

And the yellow sunflower by the brook in autumn beauty stood,

Till fell the frost from the clear cold heaven, as falls the plague on men,

And the brightness of their smile was gone from upland, glade, and glen.


And now when comes the calm mild day—as still such days will come,

To call the squirrel and the bee from out their winter home;        

When the sound of dropping nuts is heard, though all the trees are still,

And twinkle in the smoky light the waters of the rill,

The south wind searches for the flowers whose fragrance late he bore,

And sighs to find them in the wood and by the stream no more.


And then I think of one who in her youthful beauty died,        

The fair meek blossom that grew up and faded by my side.

In the cold moist earth we laid her, when the forest cast the leaf,

And we wept that one so lovely should have a lot so brief;

Yet not unmeet it was, that one, like that young friend of ours,

So gentle and so beautiful, should perish with the flowers..

Autumn can bring with it some dark moments dwelling on what was and seems to have fled.  Early sunsets, rising winds through bare branches and seemingly lifeless forests and waters make green-up and ice-out seem unattainable.  However, not only is the wilderness exploding with Winter life, but also “such days will come to call the squirrel and the bee from out their winter home” so we all know that the Smelt will run and the Mayflies will return before we know it.  And if you just can’t wait that long, Western North Carolina is just entering peak fly fishing season…


Last October color on the Kennebec River in Maine


Cusp of Spring high in the Blue Ridge

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