Dora Owen.

The book of fairy poetry online

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And all in. a peaceful ring were hurled

It was like an eve in a sinless world !

When a month and a day had come and gane,
Kilmeny sought the greenwood wene ;
There laid her down on the leaves sae green,
And Kilmeny on earth was never mair seen.
But O ! the words that fell frae her mouth
Were words of wonder, and words of truth !
But all the land were in fear and dread,
For they kendna whether she was living or dead.


It wasna her hame, and she couldna remain ;
She left this world of sorrow and pain,
And returned to the land of thought again.


Alice Brand

MERRY it is in the good greenwood,
When the mavis and merle are singing,

When the deer sweeps by, and the hounds are in cry
And the hunter's horn is ringing.

" O Alice Brand, my native land

Is lost for love of you ;
And we must hold by wood and wold,

As outlaws wont to do.

" O Alice, 'twas all for thy locks so bright,

And 'twas all for thine eyes so blue,
That on the night of our luckless flight,

Thy brother bold I slew.

" Now must I teach to hew the beech

The hand that held the glaive,
For leaves to spread our lowly bed,

And stakes to fence our cave.

" And for vest of pall, thy fingers small,

That wont on harp to stray,
A cloak must shear from the slaughter'd deer,

To keep the cold away."

" O Richard ! if my brother died,

'Twas but a fatal chance ;
For darkling was the battle tried,

And fortune sped the lance.


" If pall and vair no more I wear,

Nor thou the crimson sheen,
As warm, we'll say, is the russet grey,

As gay the forest green.

" And, Richard, if our lot be hard,

And lost thy native land,
Still Alice has her own Richard,

And he his Alice Brand."

'Tis merry, 'tis merry, in good greenwood,

So blithe Lady Alice is singing ;
On the beech's pride, and oak's brown side,

Lord Richard's axe is ringing.

Up spoke the moody Elfin King,

Who won'd within the hill,
Like wind in the porch of a ruin'd church,

His voice was ghostly shrill.

" Why sounds yon stroke on beech and oak,

Our moonlight circle's screen ?
Or who comes here to chase the deer,

Beloved of our Elfin Queen ?
Or who may dare on wold to wear

The fairies' fatal green ?

" Up, Urgan, up ! to yon mortal hie,

For thou wert christen'd man ;
For cross or sign thou wilt not fly,

For mutter'd word or ban.

" Lay on him the curse of the wither'd heart,

The curse of the sleepless eye ;
Till he wish and pray that his life would part,

Nor yet find leave to die."

'Tis merry, 'tis merry, in good greenwood,
Though the birds have still'd their singing ;

The evening blaze doth Alice raise,
And Richard is fagots bringing.



Up Urgan starts, that hideous dwarf,

Before Lord Richard stands,
And, as he cross'd and bless'd himself,
" I fear not sign," quoth the grisly elf,^

" That is made with bloody hands."

But out then spoke she, Alice Brand,

That woman, void of fear,
" And if there's blood upon his hand,

'Tis but the blood of deer."

" Now loud thou liest, thou bold of mood !

It cleaves unto his hand,
The stain of thine own kindly blood,

The blood of Ethert Brand."

Then forward stepp'd she, Alice Brand,

And made the holy sign,
" And if there's blood on Richard's hand,

A spotless hand is mine.

" And I conjure thee, Demon elf,

By Him whom Demons fear,
To show us whence thou art thyself,

And what thine errand here ? "


" 'Tis merry, 'tis merry, in Fairy-land,

When fairy birds are singing,
When the court doth ride by their monarch's side,

With bit and bridle ringing :

" And gaily shines the Fairy-land

But all is glistening show,
Like the idle gleam that December's beam

Can dart on ice and snow.

" And fading, like that varied gleam,

Is our inconstant shape,
Who now like knight and lady seem,

And now like dwarf and ape.

" It was between the night and day,

When the Fairy King has power,
That I sunk down in a sinful fray,
And, 'twixt life and death, was snatch'd away

To the joyless Elfin bower.

" But wist I of a woman bold,

Who thrice my brow durst sign,
I might regain my mortal mold,

As fair a form as thine."

She cross'd him once she cross'd him twice

That lady was so brave ;
The fouler grew his goblin hue,

The darker grew the cave.

She cross'd him thrice, that lady bold ;

He rose beneath her hand
The fairest knight on Scottish mold,

Her brother, Ethert Brand !

Merry it is in good greenwood,

When the mavis and merle are singing,

But merrier were they in Dunfermline grey,
When all the bells were ringing.



The Ferlie

A FERLIE cam' ben to me yestreen,

A lady jimp an' sma',

Wi' a milk-white snood an' a kirtle green,

Yellow an' roun were her bonny e'en,

And she said, " Will ye come awa' ?

" Will ye gang wi' me to the Elflyn Knowe,
To milk our queenie's coo ? "
" Na, na," quo' I, " I maun shear my sheep,
I've my barn to bigg, an' my corn to reap,
Sae I canna come the noo."

The ferlie skirled as she turned to gae,

For an angry elf was she,

" O a wilfu' man maun hae his way,

An' I mak' sma' doot but ye'll rue the day

That ye wouldna gang wi' me."

" O, ance again will ye speir at me

An' I'll aiblins come awa' ? "

" O I'll come again to your yetts," quo' she,

" When broom blaws bricht on yon rowan-tree

An' the laverock sings i' th' snaw ! "


The Fairies

UP the airy mountain,

Down the rushy glen,
We daren't go a-hunting

For fear of little men ;
Wee folk, good folk,

Trooping all together ;
Green jacket, red cap,

And white owl's feather !


Will ye gang wi' me to the Elflyn Knowe."


Down along the rocky shore

Some make their home,
They live on crispy pancakes

Of yellow tide-foam ;
Some in the reeds

Of the black mountain lake,
With frogs for their watch-dogs,

All night awake.

High on the hill-top

The old King sits ;
He is now so old and gray

He's nigh lost his wits.
With a bridge of white mist

Columbkill he crosses,
On his stately journeys

From Slieveleague to Rosses ;
Or going up with music

On cold starry nights,
To sup with the Queen

Of the gay Northern Lights.

They stole little Bridget

For seven years long ;
When she came down again

Her friends were all gone.
They took her lightly back,

Between the night and morrow,
They thought that she was fast asleep,

But she was dead with sorrow.
They have kept her ever since

Deep within the lake,
On a bed of flag-leaves,

Watching till she wake.

By the craggy hill-side,

Through the mosses bare,
They have planted thorn-trees

For pleasure here and there.


Is any man so daring
As dig them up in spite,

He shall find their sharpest thorns
In his bed at night.

Up the airy mountain,

Down the rushy glen,
We daren't go a-hunting

For fear of little men ;
Wee folk, good folk,

Trooping all together ;
Green jacket, red cap,

And white owl's feather !


The Lupracaun, or Fairy Shoemaker

LITTLE Cowboy, what have you heard,

Up on the lonely rath's green mound ?
Only the plaintive yellow bird

Sighing in sultry fields around,
Chary, chary, chary, chee-ee !
Only the grasshopper and the bee ?-
" Tip-tap, rip-rap,
Tick-a-tack-too !
Scarlet leather, sewn together,

This will make a shoe.
Left, right, pull it tight,

Summer days are warm ;
Underground in winter,

Laughing at the storm ! "
Lay your ear close to the hill.
Do you not catch the tiny clamour,
Busy click of an elfin hammer,
Voice of the Lupracaun singing shrill
As he merrily plies his trade ?
He's a span


And a quarter in height.
Get him in sight, hold him tight,
And you're a made
Man !

You watch your cattle the summer day,
Sup on potatoes, sleep in the hay ;

How would you like to roll in your carriage,
Look for a duchess's daughter in marriage ?
Seize the Shoemaker then you may !
" Big boots a-hunting,
Sandals in the hall,
White for a wedding feast,

Pink for a ball.
This way, that way,

So we make a shoe ;
Getting rich every stitch,
Tick-tack-too ! "


" And some they played with the water,

And rolled it down the hill ;
' And this,' they said, ' shall speedily turn

The poor old miller's mill ;

" ' For there has been no water,

Ever since the first of May ;
And a busy man shall the miller be

By the dawning of the day !

" ' Oh, the miller, how he will laugh,
When he sees the mill-dam rise !

The jolly old miller, how he will laugh,
Till the tears fill both his eyes ! '

" And some they seized the little winds,

That sounded over the hill,
And each put a horn into his mouth,

And blew so sharp and shrill :

" ' And there,' said they, ' the merry winds go,

Away from every horn ;
And those shall clear the mildew dank

From the blind old widow's corn.

" ' Oh, the poor blind old widow
Though she has been blind so long,

She'll be merry enough when the mildew's gone,
And the corn stands stiff and strong.'


" And some they brought the brown lintseed,
And flung it down from the Low

' And this,' said they, ' by the sunrise,
In the weaver's croft shall grow !

" ' Oh, the poor, lame weaver,

How will he laugh outright,
When he sees his dwindling flax-field

All full of flowers by night ! '


" And then upspoke a brownie,

With a long beard on his chin
' I have spun up all the tow,' said he,

' And I want some more to spin.

" ' I've spun a piece of hempen cloth,

And I want to spin another
A little sheet for Mary's bed,

And an apron for her mother ! '

" And with that I could not help but laugh,

And I laughed out loud and free :
And then on the top of the Caldon-Low,

There was no one left but me.

" And all on the top of the Caldon Low,

The mists were cold and grey,
And nothing I saw but the mossy stones

That round about me lay.

" But, as I came down from the hill-top,

I heard, afar below,
How busy the jolly miller was,

And how merry the wheel did go.

" And I peeped into the widow's field ;

And, sure enough, was seen
The yellow ears of the mildewed corn

All standing stiff and green.

" And down by the weaver's cot I stole,

To see if the flax were high ;
But I saw the weaver at his gate,

With the good news in his eye !

" Now, this is all I heard, mother,

And all that I did see ;
So, prithee, make my bed, mother,

For I'm tired as I can be."



The Fairy Well of Lagnanay

MOURNFULLY, sing mournfully
" O listen, Ellen, sister dear ;

Is there no help at all for me,
But only ceaseless sigh and tear ?
Why did not he who left me here,

With stolen hope steal memory ?

listen, Ellen, sister dear,
(Mournfully, sing mournfully)

I'll go away to Sleamish hill,
I'll pluck the fairy hawthorn tree,
Arid let the spirits work their will ;

1 care not if for good or ill.
So they but lay the memory

Which all my heart is haunting still !
(Mournfully, sing mournfully)

The Fairies are a silent race,
And pale as lily flowers to see ;

I care not for a blanched face,

Nor wandering in a dreaming place,
So I but banish memory :

I wish I were with Anna Grace ! "
Mournfully, sing mournfully !

Hearken to my tale of woe

'Twas thus to weeping Ellen Con

Her sister said in accents low,
Her only sister, Una bawn :
'Twas in their bed before the dawn,

And Ellen answered sad and slow,
" Oh Una, Una, be not drawn

(Hearken to my tale of woe)
To this unholy grief I pray,

Which makes me sick at heart to know,
And I will help you if I may :
The Fairy Well of Lagnanay


Lie nearer me, I tremble so,

Una, I've heard wise women say
(Hearken to my tale of woe)

That if before the dews arise,
True maiden in its icy flow

With pure hand bathe her bosom thrice,

Three lady-brackens pluck likewise,
And three times round the fountain go,

She straight forgets her tears and sighs."

Hearken to my tale of woe !

All, alas ! and well-away !

" Oh, sister Ellen, sister sweet,
Come with me to the hill I pray,

And I will prove that blessed freet ! "

They rose with soft and silent feet,
They left their mother where she lay,

Their mother and her care discreet,
(All, alas ! and well-away !)

And soon they reached the Fairy Well,
The mountain's eye, clear, cold, and grey,

Wide open in the dreary fell :

How long they stood 'twere vain to tell,
At last upon the point of day,

Bawn Una bares her bosom's swell,

(All, alas ! and well-away !)

Thrice o'er her shrinking breasts she laves
The gliding glance that will not stay

Of subtly-streaming fairy waves :

And now the charm three brackens craves,
She plucks them in their fringed array :

Now round the well her fate she braves,
(All, alas ! and well-away !)

Save us all from Fairy thrall !

Ellen sees her face the rim
Twice and thrice, and that is all

Fount and hill and maiden swim,

All together melting dim !


" Una ! Una ! " thou may'st call,

Sister sad ! but lith or limb
(Save us all from Fairy thrall !)

Never again of Una bawn
Where now she walks in dreamy hall

Shall eye of mortal look upon !

Oh ! can it be the guard was gone,
That better guard than shield or wall ?

Who knows on earth save Turlagh Daune ?
(Save us all from Fairy thrall !)

Behold the banks are green and bare,
No pit is here wherein to fall :

Aye at the fount you well may stare,

But nought save pebbles smooth is there,
And small streams twirling one and all.

Hie thee home, and be thy pray'r,
Save us all from Fairy thrall !


The Kelpie of Corrievreckan

HE mounted his steed of the water clear,

And sat on his saddle of sea-weed sere ;

He held his bridle of strings of pearl,

Dug out of the depths where the sea-snakes curl.

He put on his vest of the whirlpool froth,
Soft and dainty as velvet cloth,
And donn'd his mantle of sand so white,
And grasp'd his sword of the coral bright.

And away he gallop'd, a horseman free,
Spurring his steed through the stormy sea,
Clearing the billows with bound and leap
Away, away, o'er the foaming deep !


By Scarba's rock, by Lunga's shore,
By Garveloch isles where the breakers roar,
With his horse's hoofs he dash'd the spray,
And on to Loch Buy, away, away !

On to Loch Buy all day he rode,
And reach'd the shore as sunset glow'd,
And stopp'd to hear the sounds of joy
That rose from the hills and glens of Moy.

The morrow was May, and on the green
They'd lit the fire of Beltan E'en,
And danced around, and piled it high
With peat and heather and pine-logs dry.

A piper play'd a lightsome reel,
And timed the dance with toe and heel ;
While wives look'd on, as lad and lass
Trod it merrily o'er the grass.

And Jessie (fickle and fair was she)
Sat with Evan beneath a tree,
And smiled with mingled love and pride,
And half agreed to be his bride.

The Kelpie gallop'd o'er the green
He seemed a knight of noble mien,
And old and young stood up to see,
And wonder'd who the knight could be.

His flowing locks were auburn bright,
His cheeks were ruddy, his eyes flash'd light ;
And as he sprang from his good gray steed,
He look'd a gallant youth indeed.

And Jessie's fickle heart beat high,
As she caught the stranger's glancing eye :
And when he smiled, " Ah well," thought she,
" I wish this knight came courting me ! "


He took two steps towards her seat
" Wilt thou be mine, O maiden sweet ? "
He took her lily-white hand, and sigh'd,
" Maiden, maiden, be my bride ! "

And Jessie blush'd, and whisper'd soft
" Meet me to-night when the moon's aloft ;
I've dream'd, fair knight, long time of thee
I thought thou earnest courting me."

When the moon her yellow horn display'd,
Alone to the trysting went the maid ;
When all the stars were shining bright,
Alone to the trysting went the knight.

" I have loved thee long, I have loved thee well,
Maiden, oh more than words can tell !
Maiden, thine eyes like diamonds shine ;
Maiden, maiden, be thou mine ! "

" Fair sir, thy suit I'll ne'er deny
Though poor my lot, my hopes are high ;
I scorn a lover of low degree
None but a knight shall marry me."

He took her by the hand so white,
And gave her a ring of the gold so bright ;
" Maiden, whose eyes like diamonds shine
Maiden, maiden, now thou'rt mine ! "

He lifted her on his steed of gray,
And they rode till morning away, away
Over the mountain and over the moor,
And over the rocks, to the dark sea-shore.

; ' We have ridden east, we have ridden west
I'm weary, fair knight, and I fain would rest.
Say, is thy dwelling beyond the sea ?
Hast thou a good ship waiting for me ? "

" Down to the rocks where the serpents creep."


" I have no dwelling beyond the sea,

I have no good ship waiting for thee ;

Thou shalt sleep with me on a couch of foam,

And the depths of the ocean shall be thy home."

The gray steed plunged in the billows clear,
And the maiden's shrieks were sad to hear.
" Maiden, whose eyes like diamonds shine
Maiden, maiden, now thou'rt mine ! "

Loud the cold sea-blast did blow,
As they sank 'mid the angry waves below
Down to the rocks where the serpents creep,
Twice five hundred fathoms deep.

At morn a fisherman, sailing by,
Saw her pale corpse floating high ;
He knew the maid by her yellow hair
And her lily skin so soft and fair.

Under a rock on Scarba's shore,
Where the wild winds sigh and the breakers roar,
They dug her a grave by the water clear,
Among the sea-weed salt and sere.

And every year at Beltan E'en,
The Kelpie gallops across the green,
On a steed as fleet as the wintry wind,
With Jessie's mournful ghost behind.


The Brownie of Blednoch

THERE cam a strange wight to our town-en',
An' the fient a body did him ken ;
He tirled na lang, but he glided ben
Wi' a dreary, dreary hum.


His face did glare like the glow o' the west,
When the drumlie cloud has it half o'ercast ;
Or the strugglin' moon when she's sair distrest.
O sirs, 'twas Aiken-drum.

I trow the bauldest stood aback,
Wi' a gape an' a glower till their lugs did crack,
As the shapeless phantom mum'ling spak
" Hae ye wark for Aiken-drum ? "

Oh, had ye seen the bairnies' fright,
As they stared at this wild and unyirthly wight,
As he stauket in 'tween the dark and the light,
And graned out, " Aiken-drum ! "

The black dog, growling, cowered his tail,
The lassie swarfed, loot fa' the pail ;
Rob's lingle brak as he mendit the flail,
At the sight o' Aiken-drum.

His matted head on his breast did rest,
A lang blue beard wan'ered down like a vest ;
But the glare o' his ee hath nae bard exprest,
Nor the skimes o' Aiken-drum.

Roun' his hairy form there was naething seen
But a philabeg o' the rashes green,
An' his knotted knees played aye knoit between
What a sight was Aiken-drum !

On his wauchie arms three claws did meet,
As they trailed on the grun' by his taeless feet ;
E'en the old gudeman himsel' did sweat
To look at Aiken-drum.

But he drew a score, himsel' did sain ;
The auld wife tried, but her tongue was gane ;
While the young one closer clasped her wean,
And turned frae Aiken-drum.


But the canny auld wife cam till her breath,
And she thocht the Bible might ward aff scaith,
Be it banshee, bogle, ghaist, or wraith
But it feared na Aiken-drum.

" His presence protect us ! " quoth the old gudeman;
" What wad ye, where won ye, by sea or by Ian' ?
I conjure ye, speak, by the beuk in my han' ! "
What a grane gae Aiken-drum !

" I lived in a Ian' where we saw nae sky,
I dwelt in a spot where a burn rins na by ;
But Pse dwall now wi' you if ye like to try
Hae ye wark for Aiken-drum ?

" I'll shiel a' your sheep i' the mornin' sune,
I'll berry your crap by the light o' the moon,
An' ba the bairns wi' an unkenned tune,
If ye'll keep puir Aiken-drum.

" I'll loup the linn where ye canna wade,
I'll kirn the kirn, an' I'll turn the bread ;
An' the wildest filly that ever ran rede,
I'se tame't," quoth Aiken-drum.

" To wear the tod frae the flock on the fell,
To gather the dew frae the heather-bell,
An' to look at my face i' your clear crystal well,
Might gie pleasure to Aiken-drum.

" I'se seek nae guids, gear, bond, nor mark ;
I use nae beddin', shoon, nor sark ;
But a cogfu' o' brose 'tween the light an' the dark,
Is the wage o' Aiken-drum."

Quoth the wylie auld wife : " The thing speaks weel ;
Our workers are scant we hae routh o' meal ;
Gif he'll do as he says be he man, be he deil
Now ! we'll try this Aiken-drum."


But the wenches skirled : " He's no be here !
His eldritch look gars us swarf wi' fear ;
An' the fient a ane will the house come near,
If they think but o' Aiken-drum."

" Puir clipmalabors ! ye hae little wit ;
Is't na Hallowmas now, an' the crap out yet ? "
Sae she silenced them a' wi' a stamp o' her fit
" Sit yer wa's down, Aiken-drum."

Roun' a' that side what wark was dune
By the streamer's gleam, or the glance o' the moon ;
A word, or a wish, an' the brownie cam sune,
Sae helpfu' was Aiken-drum. . . .

On Blednoch banks, an' on crystal Cree,
For mony a day a toiled wight was he ;
While the bairns played harmless roun' his knee,
Sae social was Aiken-drum.

But a new-made wife, fu' o' rippish freaks,
Fond o' a' things feat for the first five weeks,
Laid a mouldy pair o' her ain man's breeks
By the brose o' Aiken-drum.


Let the learned decide when they convene
What spell was him an' the breeks between ;
For frae that day forth he was nae mair seen,
An' sair missed was Aiken-drum.

He was heard by a herd gaun by Thrieve,
Crying : " Lang, lang now may I greet an' grieve :
For, alas ! I hae gotten baith fee an' leave
Oh, luckless Aiken-drum."


Goblin Market

MORNING and evening
Maids heard the goblins cry :
" Come buy our orchard fruits,
Come buy, come buy :
Apples and quinces,
Lemons and oranges,
Plump unpecked cherries,
Melons and raspberries,
Bloom-down-cheeked peaches,
Swart-headed mulberries,
Wild free-born cranberries,
Crab-apples, dewberries,
Pine-apples, blackberries,
Apricots, strawberries ;
All ripe together
In summer weather,
Morns that pass by,
Fair eves that fly ;
Come buy, come buy :
Our grapes fresh from the vine,
Pomegranates full and fine,
Dates and sharp bullaces,
Rare pears and greengages,
Damsons and bilberries,
Taste them and try :


Currants and gooseberries,

Bright-fire-like barberries,

Figs to fill your mouth,

Citrons from the South,

Sweet to tongue and sound to eye ;

Come buy, come buy."

Evening by evening
Among the brookside rushes,
Laura bowed her head to hear,
Lizzie veiled her blushes :
Crouching close together
In the cooling weather,
With clasping arms and cautioning lips,
With tingling cheeks and finger tips.
" Lie close," Laura said,
Pricking up her golden head :
" We must not look at goblin men,
We must not buy their fruits :
Who knows upon what soil they fed
Their hungry thirsty roots ? "
" Come buy," call the goblins
Hobbling down the glen.
" Oh," cried Lizzie, " Laura, Laura,
You should not peep at goblin men."
Lizzie covered up her eyes,
Covered close lest they should look ;
Laura reared her glossy head,
And whispered like the restless brook :
" Look, Lizzie, look, Lizzie,
Down the glen tramp little men.
One hauls a basket,
One bears a plate,
One lugs a golden dish
Of many pounds weight.
How fair the vine must grow
Whose grapes are so luscious ;
How warm the wind must blow
Through those fruit bushes."
" No," said Lizzie : " No, no, no ;


Their offers should not charm us,

Their evil gifts would harm us."

She thrust a dimpled finger

In each ear, shut eyes and ran :

Curious Laura chose to linger

Wondering at each merchant man.

One had a cat's face,

One whisked a tail,

One tramped at a rat's pace,

One crawled like a snail,

One like a wombat prowled obtuse and furry,

One like a ratel tumbled hurry skurry.

She heard a voice like voice of doves

Cooing all together :

They sounded kind and full of loves

In the pleasant weather.

Laura stretched her gleaming neck
Like a rush-imbedded swan,
Like a lily from the beck,
Like a moonlit poplar branch,
Like a vessel at the launch
When its last restraint is gone.

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Online LibraryDora OwenThe book of fairy poetry → online text (page 2 of 9)