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Walton Poems

There are also divers other kinds of worms, which for color and shape alter even as the ground out of which they are got; as the marsh-worm, the tag-tail, the flag-worm, the dockworm. . . Izaak Walton

There was a bookshelf for free books near my office at Denison University, a place where I taught for seven years total in two incarnations. Sometimes when a student was late for a meeting I would browse it. One day, I found an illustrated copy of Izaak Walton’s The Compleat Angler. I began to read it, and if you’ll forgive the expression, I was hooked. I carried that book around with me for years. (I’m looking at it now.) In it I found inexplicable instructions for fishing – fishing has always been a great mystery for me – and I found lists of creatures like the ones you find in Pliny. When I read the list above, I was transported to another kind of worm – dragons. And hooks are traps or snares. The world is full of hooks. I caught some poems that spoke to the lists I found in Walton’s wonderful book. My Walton poems head off the poems in Goldberg-Variations. And, of necessity, the voices I channeled for them are antique.

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