This month, south of Mount Desert Rock, Captain John Stanley harpooned a 500-pound swordfish. This poem is the story of that event as he told it to me. It has been embellished a bit.
Capt. John Stanley, the swordfish and the ghost of Gene Thurston
The sword had traveled many miles, from Trinidad to Maine.
It was headed up to Newfoundland, familiar terrain.
Off the rock it paused a bit, the herring there was nice,
Not knowing soon its future, lay in a box with ice.
On that day, the wind was light, as the “Linda Sea” went forth,
The ghost of Capt. Thurston came down from somewhere north.
Capt. Stanley standing at the helm, and crewman Jellison by his side,
The weather was good; the boat was strong and fair would be the tide.
They passed the rock and slowed it down, for soon the fish would show.
Up high upon the crow’s nest, they years would help him know.
Seven decades of fishing, he knew these grounds by heart
The tuna would be showing soon, and that’s when they would start.
But off the bow a fin did show, a tuna it was not,
The captain at a sword, would finally get a shot.
So, the crew it took the helm, as to the pulpit he did run.
He thought he heard old Thurston say, “it’s time to have some fun.”
The fish it surfaced once, then to everyone’s surprise,
It jumped right near the pulpit and looked into his eyes.
It seemed to say,”you’re too old, to throw that heavy stick.
If you’re going to catch me, you better do it quick”.
So, two more times that fish came up, two times he threw that dart.
His arm was growing weary, there was pounding in his heart.
But on the last time up, his aim was true and fast,
He struck that fish with all his might, as though it was his last.
The crowds were waiting on the dock, such fish they’d never seen.
At thirteen feet and five hundred lbs., it was a fisherman’s dream.
And when the fish was well iced down and John was on his way,
He paused to think of his old friend, and thanked him for this day.