Wednesday, 29 March 2017
Dagan the fish-god was an important god of the maritime Canaanites, the Phoenicians. Early Roman traders came to the West Country to annex the tin mines and may well have used Phoenician galley rowers who may - perhaps - have brought their Gods with them...
"Who has not seen the scarus rise, decoyed and killed by fraudulent flies"
Marcus Valerius Martialis, Roman poet, fisherman and source of this first description of fly fishing.
Where the Teign descends from withy moorland,
quick under sloe and red berried rowan,
scrapes over grit into fly-whirling pools
- and slivers of brownies waggle and flit -
Martial the poet took twelve foot of silk,
a Hare's Ear nymph tied with feathers from Rome;
and with a neat flick put a hook in the lip
of the fish god Dagan - Dew of the Land -
a Merman in azure and olive scales
burnished as bright as a Lazio noon,
crowned with cassiterite, cloaked in the moon.
Swiftly unhanded he slipped the God back
into hollow water. Cold western winds
sucked up the sea into chough-feather clouds.
First published in The Broadsheet 10/2016