The Alban stands away now, rocking and dark,
Sandy alone aboard, in the wheel-house, keeping
The engine slow but a constant strain on the tow-rope
Between boat and boat, and so on the net, lest, slack,
The herring escape it. And he watches, across on the lighted Amy,
His four sons hauling at the net; Colin and Dick and Bob and Alec:
A share each for the house and a heart-lift for a father.
Men and engines grunting and hauling,
The nets dripping, the folds falling;
The spring-ropes jerking to the winches’ creaking
Wind in by fathoms from their sea-deep seeking,
Steady and long like a preacher speaking.
But the flow of the net we must all lay hold on,
The cork-strung back-rope our hands are cold on.
As we thrash at the net the dead fish falling
Gleam and break from the tight mesh mauling,
Show what we’ll get from the bag of the net!
And fierce and straining and shoulders paining
We drag it out from the sea’s wild sprawling,
From the lit wet hummocks’ twist and spin;
And the leaded sole-rope comes slumping in.