What we call sucker, chub and carp are coarse
to them. I have dreamed of lords with fly
rods and tweeds beside the chalk-bottomed Test.
Granted, that’s no myth. Yeats’ Irishman,
the freckled one “who goes to a grey place
on a hill/In grey Connemara clothes/At dawn

to cast his flies” still works his way down
galleries of watercolor. And, of course,
the stone is still “dark under froth” in that place
at “the down-turn of his wrist/When the flies
drop in the stream.” The dream is real. The man
does exist. But you’d think that he’d detest

the barbel, tench, chub and carp—detest
the coarse. He doesn’t. As I walked down
to Trafalgar Square, a picture of a man
on a magazine drew me to the rack. The coarse
tweed of his jacket was dotted with real flies
and covered with slime. He’d won first place

with the twenty-pound carp, out of place
in his arms, held as a chubby child for the contest
judges, held as if it might fly,
so fat and zeppelin-like it was. Then it dawned
on me, British or not, his face—his coarse
smile was almost American! That man’s

smile rode his carp like the first Englishmen
rode the Mayflower. I paid the clerk, found a place
to sit by a Wimpy’s, and opened my Coarse
Fishing Mail. Within were lists of contest
winners beside the hoops of live-holding nets, down
by other ads for dough-bait, chum catapults and fly-

sized hooks. I paused and watched the pigeons fly
up and light on Admiral Nelson then read about a man
with a fat carp under each arm, caught fresh just down
the Thames; a boy with eight bulging tench, placed
on the bank grass of Regents Park Lake, testing
the light like a necklace of huge opals. On the coarse

have mercy, Yeats. These people and fat fish don’t fly
in the face of great Art and the wise. These fishermen
know carp too can be “as cold/And passionate as the dawn.”


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