January 20th, 2006

Fishy Circumstances

"The Isle of Man"

So where fair Thames, and crooked Isis* sonne
Payes tribute to his King, the mantling stream
Encounter’d by the tides (now rushing on
With equall force) of’s way doth doubtfull seem;
     At length the full-grown sea, and waters King
     Chide the bold waves with hollow murmuring:
Back flie the streams to shroud them in their mother spring.**

The whale seemed pretty doubtful of its way while in that very neighborhood.

* The Isis is what the Thames is called upstream.
** From Phineas Fletcher. The Purple Island or the Isle of Man. Cambridge 1633. Canto 1. Verse 23. There's a 1971 facsimile (Amsterdam: Theatrum Orbis Terrarum Ltd; New York: Da Capo Press, 1971), but you will likely find this website containing the whole of the text more convenient if you'd like to look at Fletcher's wacky psychomachia and allegory of the human body any further. This excerpt doesn't begin to do justice with this poem's wackiness.