Sunday, February 13, 2011


By James Biddle Shepherd

Away down yonder on the Pasquotank,
Where the bull-frogs jump from bank to bank,
And the tide moves slow mid the cypress knees,
And the pools are dark 'neath the arching trees;
How well I remember when the frogs are jolly,
Their deep bass calls and thunderous volley,
When the water creeps cool 'neath the matted roots.
"Down under the roots, down under the roots,"
And the river moves quiet and happy and deep,
Moves "happy and deep, knee-deep, knee-deep."

Away down yonder on the Pasquotank,
Where the flags are thick and the mosses dank,
When lulls the roar of the bull-frog band
The small frogs pipe on every hand,
And a million shrill throats sing of herrings,
Of "herrings, herrings, herrings, herrings,"
And of bacon, "fry-bacon, fry-bacon, fry-bacon,"
Pray what can they know about herrings and bacon!
And yet as a child I learned for true,
That is what they sing the whole night through!

Ah, wild, plebeian, boisterous frogs,
Your piping all night in the reeking bogs
Was melody sweet to my infant ear;
For softer notes 'twas not tuned to hear,
Like Philomel's on his sprig of holly,
But the bold frogs songs that are hearty and jolly,
Where all join in with a right good will,
And the big frogs roar and the little frogs trill,
And make the night merry along the bank
Of the shimmering, gloomy, old Pasquotank.

Ye wee frog-folk of the Pasquotank,
May your race dwell long on its reedy bank,
May you chant always the same old notes,
In the same white vests and bright green coats,
May you always sing "fry-bacon, fry-bacon,"
The song of plenty, of herrings and bacon;
May the tide creep cool 'neath the matted roots,
"Down under the roots, down under the roots,"
And the stream move quiet and happy and deep,
Move "happy and deep, knee-deep, knee-deep."

The Author.—James Biddle Shepard was born on November 14, 1815, in New Bern, [Craven County,]N. C.  He was a son of William Biddle Shepard of that place, and wife, Mary Blount, of "Elmwood," Pasquotank County. He was educated at the University of North Carolina, and graduated with the first honors of his class in 1834. Later he studied law and was admitted to the bar. He was State Senator from Wake County in 1842, and a Representative in 1844.

At one time he was United States District Attorney for North Carolina, but was "too wealthy to undergo the drudgery of the bar." He was a Democrat in politics, and his party nominated him for Governor in 1846, but the Whig nominee, William A. Graham, defeated him in the election which followed.

Mr. Shepard married Frances Donnell, of New Bern, and left an only son, John Robert Donnell Shepard, who has resided in Paris, France, for some years past.

James B. Shepard died in Raleigh on the 17th of June, 1871, and is buried in the eastern end of the old City Cemetery, along with numerous members of his family, the remains of several of whom he had caused to be brought from the eastern part of the State, for re-interment at Raleigh, several months before his death.

[North Carolina Poems, edited by Eugene Clyde Brooks: 1912. This is a Google book.]

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