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There is a poet in everyone, somewhere hidden, perhaps it should remain there.
From The Legacy of Father Brennan.
James had read many angling books, some old fishing diaries, but none touched him like this masterpiece. Old Monty clearly loved this river, and the simple eloquence of his writing was extraordinary. His tales of catching fine trout, the passion, the beauty of this simple pastime and the darkness of war that had followed him all his life, all carefully penned in poetry and prose.
The diary was clearly that of a passionate and courageous man. It started on the battle fields of Ypres and ended where James now sat.
Shattered limbs, tortured mind, lifeless corpse.
Young man, why lie you so still?
On the cold earth amidst the poppy’s swaying in the summer breeze.
Where is your home, your dreams, your dreams?
I cast in hope, some day to return, a gentle swirl,
upon my stream.
My stream, far from the bloodied fields of Flanders.
Return he did, and for the next thirty years he tended his flock and cast his flies. Fishing was the only solace, the only sanctuary that would dim the memories of those dreadful days during the Great War.
Echoes of smiling children, looking out from granite walls,
their carefree days, dancing in the meadow,
skimming stones upon the stream, before the flood,
that bore them away to the labyrinth of life, and death,
that took our young on a distant shore. I implore,
no more war can we endure, the needless waste
of young men’s blood for old men’s greed, no more.
In the shadows of the granite schoolhouse,
I sit, await my call.
A mayfly drifts towards the shore,
borne on a gentle breeze,
caressing my waiting soul.
It calls my name, wings unfold,
I go soon, for I’ve grown old.
Do not lament, do not despair.
Where I go, a wild river runs,
through meadows of sweet myrtle, a trout turns.
Free at last, the memories of Flanders, no more.
Rev. Montague Nelson, Resting in the shadow of the school house. 1944
From The Con-quest of Father Brennan.
There should be poetry written to describe the landing of a beautiful speckled brown trout. It should be poetry that would task the brains of Ireland’s finest, and burn the image of sparkled water, the struggle of wits between fish and angler, and the joy of success into the hearts of its readers forever. Sadly, James P. Brennan is a fisherman, not a poet.
Bloody stockie, drooping belly,
tattered fins, of little beauty.
Sterile clown, unwelcome freeloader,
in my stream how dare you swim.
Squatter trout, you took my fly,
nose to tattered tail, I’ll not bother measure.
If no more I catch, this God-given day,
a blank, my fishing diary shall display.
Squatter trout, of un-natural flesh,
I dispatch you now, so take your rest.
To Mick Casey’s pig pen next you go,
to swim in pig muck, where no rivers flow.
When Egan next on bacon dines,
I pray to God he gasps in pain.
when a squatter’s fish bone,
his tongue impales.
Stupid Egan, with your stupid bees,
by seasons end,
I’ll bring you to your knees.