Poetry Sunday: In August by Paul Laurence Dunbar

I am not a fisherperson, although I freely admit that I like eating what that person catches. But the fish that I enjoy most are the ones in my aquarium and in our little goldfish pond. I find it pleasant and restful to watch them. If I did fish, I think August would be a good month to do it. Goodness knows it's too hot to do much of anything else. 

Paul Laurence Dunbar evidently enjoyed fishing or at least he understood those who did. And it seems that he may have understood their propensity to...um...exaggerate about their catch. He also understood the need for some libation to fuel one's angling efforts. Since he was a poet, he expressed all of that poetically.

In August

by Paul Laurence Dunbar

When August days are hot an' dry,
When burning copper is the sky,
I'd rather fish than feast or fly
In airy realms serene and high.

I'd take a suit not made for looks,
Some easily digested books,
Some flies, some lines, some bait, some hooks,
Then would I seek the bays and brooks.

I would eschew mine every task,
In Nature's smiles my soul should bask,
And I methinks no more could ask,
Except—perhaps—one little flask.

In case of accident, you know,
Or should the wind come on to blow,
Or I be chilled or capsized, so,
A flask would be the only go.

Then I could spend a happy time,—
A bit of sport, a bit of rhyme
(A bit of lemon, or of lime,
To make my bottle's contents prime).

When August days are hot an' dry,
I won't sit by an' sigh or die,
I'll get my bottle (on the sly)
And go ahead, and fish, and lie!


  1. I think he captured it all, didn't he?

    1. Indeed. Especially with the line, "When burning copper is the sky..." That definitely describes the sky that I see these days.

  2. I've often thought fishing and baseball are activities that are particularly suited to my personality, but I know nothing about either one. There's something sweet and slow about both of these that I like.

    1. Baseball is my favorite game, the only game I follow. And you are right - it is generally sweet and slow.

  3. I don't fish. I tried it once, no thanks. My son fished when he was a boy and teen; I'm not sure about now. One of my husband's cousins lived in New Jersey until recently, and would travel miles and miles to a famed trout fishing area of upstate New York just to fish. Not sure if he had a flask as part of his equipment.

    1. My family took me fishing once when I was a child once. I felt the fish scream when I took it off the hook and threw it back in. That did it for me. Never again.

  4. This poem reminds me of my grandfather. He loved to fish...and escape life for awhile. :)

    1. So did my grandfather! He spent a lot of time in his later years sitting next to a creek with a fishing pole in hand.


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