Piscator and Piscatrix

Lines written to an album print.

    AS on this pictured page I look,
    This pretty tale of line and hook
    As though it were a novel-book
    Amuses and engages:
    I know them both, the boy and girl;
    She is the daughter of the Earl,
    The lad (that has his hair in curl)
    My lord the County's page is.

    A pleasant place for such a pair!
    The fields are basking in the glare;
    No breath of wind the heavy air
    Of lazy summer quickens.
    Hard by you see the castle tall;
    The village nestles round the wall,
    As round about the hen its small
    Young progeny of chickens.

    It is too hot to pace the keep;
    To climb the turret is too steep;
    My lord the Earl is dozing deep,
    His noonday dinner over:
    The postern-warder is asleep
    (Perhaps they've bribed him not to peep)
    And so from out the gate they creep,
    And cross the fields of clover.

    Their lines into the brook they launch;
    He lays his cloak upon a branch,
    To guarantee his Lady Blanche
    's delicate complexion:
    He takes his rapier from his haunch,
    That beardless doughty champion staunch,
    He'd drill it through the rival's paunch
    That question'd his affection!

    O heedless pair of sportsmen slack!
    You never mark, though trout or jack,
    Or little foolish stickleback,
    Your baited snares may capture.
    What care has she for line and hook?
    She turns her back upon the brook,
    Upon her lover's eyes to look
    In sentimental rapture.

    O loving pair! as thus I gaze
    Upon the girl who smiles always,
    The little hand that ever plays
    Upon the lover's shoulder;
    In looking at your pretty shapes,
    A sort of envious wish escapes
    (Such as the Fox had for the Grapes)
    The Poet your beholder.

    To be brave, handsome, twenty-two
    With nothing else on earth to do,
    But all day long to bill and coo:
    It were a pleasant calling.
    And had I such a partner sweet;
    A tender heart for mine to beat,
    A gentle hand my clasp to meet; --
    I'd let the world flow at my feet,
    And never heed its brawling.

    William Makepeace Thackeray (1811-1863)

Next to Charles Dickens the greatest Victorian English novelist is William Makepeace Thackeray. His many satires on manners in society set him apart by poking fun at the things he disliked the most; sham, hypocrisy, stupidity, false optimism, and self-seeking. He was an only child born July 18, 1811, in Calcutta, India. His most widely read novel is Vanity Fair the first novel in English to show a woman, Becky Sharp, who is neither very good nor very bad but only very human. It was published as a magazine serial like most of his works.

Thackeray was an illustrator as well and Piscator and Piscatrix (Fisherman and Fisherwoman )is his appreciation of a drawing. He has made up his own little story where the boy is servant to the Lord Lieutenant of the County and the girl becomes the Earl's daughter. In the end Thackery himself has been absorbed into the tale

    To be brave, handsome, twenty-two
    With nothing else on earth to do,
as his real yearning for a storybook life is revealed.


Bram, Robert Philips, Norma H. Dicky, " Thackery, William", Funk & Wagnalls New Encyclopedia , 1988.

I've written several times about William Makepeace Thackeray:

Public domain text taken from The Poets’ Corner:

CST Approved.

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