Thomas Moore

May 28, 1780 - Feb 26, 1852


To The Flying-Fish

by Thomas Moore

When I have seen thy snowy wing
O'er the blue wave at evening spring,
And give those scales, of silver white,
So gaily to the eye of light,
As if thy frame were form'd to rise,
And live amid the glorious skies;
Oh! it has made me proudly feel,
How like thy wing's impatient zeal
Is the pure soul, that scorns to rest
Upon the world's ignoble breast,
But takes the plume that God has given,
And rises into light and heaven!

But, when I see that wing, so bright,
Grow languid with a moment's flight,
Attempt the paths of air in vain,
And sink into the waves again:
Alas! the flattering pride is o'er;
Like thee, awhile, the soul may soar,
But erring man must blush to think,
Like thee, again, the soul may sink!

Oh Virtue! when thy clime I seek,
Let not my spirit's flight be weak:
Let me not, like this feeble thing,
With brine still dropping from its wing,
Just sparkle in the solar glow,
And plunge again to depths below;
But, when I leave the grosser throng
With whom my soul hath dwelt so long
Let me, in that aspiring day,
Cast every lingering stain away,
And, panting for thy purer air,
Fly up at once and fix me there!

Notes to the poem:

It is the opinion of St. Austin upon Genesis, and I believe of nearly all the Fathers, that birds, like fish, were originally produced from the waters; in defence of which idea they have collected every fanciful circumstance which can tend to prove a kindred similitude between them; With this thought in our minds when we first see the Flying-Fish, we could almost fancy, that we are present at the moment of creation, and witness the birth of the first bird from the waves.


The Poetical Works of Thomas Moore.
Copyright 1835
Philadelphia: J. Crissy, No. 4, Minor Street, and Desilver, Thomas, And Co., No. 247, Market Street