He sits under a willow tree
on the bank of a clear chalk stream.
In my coloured glass the river flows
through night and day and night.
At noon the sun casts pools o
f green, of yellow, brown and blue -
they slide across the limestone flags
of Prior Silkstede’s side chapel -
so mayflies dance, rushes nod,
warblers almost sing.
Darkness falls, the cathedral doors
are bolted fast. All is still.
But when Moon casts her fragile line
my river is drawn up into the night.
Beside the Itchen, the Kennet, the Dove,
Izaak watches for the flash of a flank,
the flick of a tail, a slicing fin. His bait
grasshoppers, lobworms, frogs.
Men stand and stare at me, at him,
in hushed tones swap tall fishing tales
of flies tried out, fish caught, fish lost,
and eels. Ah, eels, now there’s a thing.
At dusk he’ll take his net, his creel,
walk back to his rooms to write it down:
the sermon which broke from its chrysalis
on a shaking reed as he sat and fished
and read and prayed beside the waters
which flowed, which flow, then as now,
of Kennet, Itchen, Derbyshire Dove.
Through dusk to dawn to noon to dusk
Izaak Walton studies to be quiet.
A stained glass window in Winchester Cathedral
is dedicated to the author of The Compleat Angler
informally known as the Patron Saint of angling.
ANNE BOILEAU LIVES IN ESSEX, England and is Chairman of Suffolk Poetry Society. Her poems have appeared in Lapidus, Artemis, Twelve Rivers and several George Crabbe Competition anthologies. She is a member of Camden Mews Translators, and in 2011 she presented the German poet Hans Magnus Enzensberger, with her translations, at the Poetry Café in Covent Garden.