by Thomas Love Peacock (1785 - 1866)

In a bowl to sea went wise men three
Language: English 
In a bowl to sea went wise men three,
On a brilliant night in June:
They carried a net, and their hearts were set
On fishing up the moon.

The sea was calm, the air was balm,
Not a breath stirred low or high,
And the moon, i trow, lay as bright below,
And as round as in the sky.

The wise men with the current went,
Nor paddle nor oar had they,
And still as the grave they went on the wave
That they might not disturb their prey.

Far, far at sea, were the wise men three,
When their fishing net they threw ;
And at the throw, the moon below
In a thousand fragments flew.

The sea was bright with a dancing light
Of a million million gleams,
Which the broken moon shot forth as soon
As the net disturbed her beams.

They drew in their net ; it was empty and wet,
And they had lost their pain ;
Soon ceased the play of each dancing ray,
And the image was round again.

Three times they threw, three times they drew,
And all while were mute ;
And evermore their wonder grew,
Till they could not but dispute.

Their silence they broke, and each one spoke
Full long, and loud, and clear ;
A man at sea their voices three
Full three leagues off might hear.

The three wise men got home again
To their children and their wives ;
But, touching their trip, and their net's vain dip,
They disputed all their lives.

The wise men three could never agree
Why they missed the promised boon ;
They agreed alone that their net they had thrown,
And they had not caught the moon.

About the headline (FAQ)

First published in Guide, June 1837


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Researcher for this text: Emily Ezust [Administrator]

This text was added to the website: 2008-09-11
Line count: 40
Word count: 288