Joyce Kilmer Poems >>
Dave Lilly

There's a brook on the side of Greylock that used
to be full of trout,
But there's nothing there now but minnows; they say it is all fished
I fished there many a Summer day some twenty years ago,
And I never quit without getting a mess of a dozen or so.
There was a man, Dave Lilly, who lived on the North
Adams road,
And he spent all his time fishing, while his neighbors reaped and
He was the luckiest fisherman in the Berkshire hills, I think.
And when he didn't go fishing he'd sit in the tavern and drink.
Well, Dave is dead and buried and nobody cares
very much;
They have no use in Greylock for drunkards and loafers and such.
But I always liked Dave Lilly, he was pleasant as you could wish;
He was shiftless and good-for-nothing, but he certainly could fish.
The other night I was walking up the hill from
And I came to the brook I mentioned,
and I stopped on the bridge and sat down.
I looked at the blackened water with its little flecks of white
And I heard it ripple and whisper in the still of the Summer night.
And after I'd been there a minute it seemed to
me I could feel
The presence of someone near me, and I heard the hum of a reel.
And the water was churned and broken, and something was brought
to land
By a twist and flirt of a shadowy rod in a deft and shadowy hand.
I scrambled down to the brookside and hunted all
There wasn't a sign of a fisherman; there wasn't a sign of a trout.
But I heard somebody chuckle behind the hollow oak
And I got a whiff of tobacco like Lilly used to smoke.
It's fifteen years, they tell me, since anyone
fished that brook;
And there's nothing in it but minnows that nibble the bait off your
But before the sun has risen and after the moon has set
I know that it's full of ghostly trout for Lilly's ghost to get.
I guess I'll go to the tavern and get a bottle
of rye
And leave it down by the hollow oak, where Lilly's ghost went by.
I meant to go up on the hillside and try to find his grave
And put some flowers on it -- but this will be better for Dave.