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Fly Fisherman Throwback: Ezra Pound's Blue Dun

Attempts to find an origin for this charming passage have not turned up any evidence that Pound was either a fly fisherman or fly tier; although he often boxed with Ernest Hemingway, there is no evidence that he had fished with him.

Fly Fisherman Throwback: Ezra Pound's Blue Dun

Editor's note: Flyfisherman.com will periodically be posting articles written and published before the Internet, from the Fly Fisherman magazine print archives. The wit and wisdom from legendary fly-fishing writers like Ernest Schwiebert, Gary LaFontaine, Lefty Kreh, Robert Traver, Dave Whitlock, Al Caucci & Bob Nastasi, Vince Marinaro, Doug Swisher & Carl Richards, Nick Lyons, and many more deserve a second life. These articles are reprinted here exactly as published in their day and may contain information, philosophies, or language that reveals a different time and age. This should be used for historical purposes only.

This article originally appeared in the July 1976 issue of Fly Fisherman magazine. Click here for a PDF of the print version of "Blue Dun."


Blue dun; number 2 in most rivers

for dark days, when it is cold

A starling's wing will give you the colour

or duck widgeon, if you take feather from under the wing

Let the body be of blue fox fur, or a water rat's

or grey squirrel's. Take this with a portion of mohair

and a cock's hackle for legs.




12th of March to 2nd of April

Hen pheasant's feather does for a fly,

green tail, the wings flat on the body

Recommended


Dark fur from a hare's ear for a body

a green shaded partridge feather

grizzled yellow cock's hackle

green wax; harl from a peacock's tail

bright lower body; about the size of pin

the head should be. can be fished from seven a.m.

till eleven; at which time the brown marsh fly comes on.

As long as the brown continues, no fish will take Granham

That hath the light of the doer, as it were

a form cleaving to it.

Ezra Pound, The Cantos. Copyright 1937 by Ezra Pound. Reprinted by permission of New Directions Publishing Corporation.


Ezra Pound was born in 1885 in Hailey, Idaho. He grew up in Pennsylvania, and attended the University of Pennsylvania and Hamilton College. In 1908 he left for Europe and soon became a leading figure in the new poetry movements of the early 20th century. He died in 1972 in Venice.

Pound's work as poet, critic, editor and author has given rise to much discussion. His sense of language itself as a dynamic entity is not unique, although his form of expression is often singular. The excerpt above is from his most well-known work, the Cantos, a long series of argumentative and esoteric poems.

Pound's interests were oblique and wide-ranging, and yet our attempts to find an origin for this charming passage have not turned up any evidence that he was either a fly fisherman or fly tier. Although he often boxed with Ernest Hemingway, there is no evidence that he had fished with him. Perhaps it is only that the poet enjoyed the parallel between his own fascination with the importance of the subtle shadings of words and the fly fisherman's fascination with the importance of the subtle shadings of color in fly tying. For the poet, the slight variation between two words can make all the difference in the value of his poem, just as the slight variation between two colors can make all the difference in the effectiveness of the fly fisherman's pattern. Fly Fisherman Magazine would be pleased to hear from any of our readers who could shed some light on the origins of this passage. The Editors.

Cover of the March 1977 issue of Fly Fisherman, featuring Robert Traver smoking a cigar sitting on a log.
This article originally appeared in the March 1977 issue of Fly Fisherman.

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