Dora Owen.

The book of fairy poetry online

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And for the roof, instead of slats,
Is covered with the skins of bats

With moonshine that are gilded.

Fairy Frolics

Hence shadows, seeming idle shapes

Of little frisking elves and apes,

To earth do make their wanton 'scapes

As hope of pastime hastes them :
Which maids think on the hearth they see,
When fires well-near consumed be,
There dancing hays by two and three

Just as their fancy casts them.

These make our girls their sluttery rue
By pinching them both black and blue,
And put a penny in their shoe

The house for cleanly sweeping :
And in their courses make that round
In meadows and in marshes found,
Of them so call'd the fairy ground,

Of which they have the keeping.

The Fairy Pigwiggin Arms for the Fight

And quickly arms him for the field,
A little cockle-shell his shield,
Which he could very bravely wield,

Yet could it not be pierced :
His spear a bent both stiff and strong
And well-near of two inches long,
The pile was of a house-fly's tongue

Whose sharpness naught reversed.


And puts him on a coat of mail,

Which was of a fish's scale,

That when his foe should him assail

No point should be prevailing :
His rapier was a hornet's sting,
It was a very dangerous thing ;
For if he chanced to hurt the King
It would be long in healing.

His helmet was a beetle's head,
Most horrible and full of dread,
That able was to strike one dead,

Yet did it well become him ;
And for a plume a horse's hair,
Which, being tossed with the air,
Had force to strike his foe with fear

And turn his weapon from him.

Himself he on an earwig set,

Yet scarce he on his back could get,

So oft and high he did corvet

Ere he himself could settle :
He made him turn and stop and bound,
To gallop and to trot the round ;
He scarce could stand on any ground,

He was so full of mettle.


Lirope the Bright

THESE sprightly gallants lov'd a lass

Called Lirope the bright ;

In the whole world there scarcely was

So delicate n wight.

There was no beauty so divine

That ever nymph did grace,

But it beyond itself did shine

In her more heavenly face.

What form she pleased each thing would take

That e'er she did behold ;

" What form she pleased each thing would take
That e'er she did behold."

" O THEN, I SEE " 149

Of pebbles she could diamonds make,

Gross iron turn to gold.

Such power there with her presence came

Stern tempests she allayed ;

The cruel tiger she could tame,

The raging torrents stayed.

She chid, she cherished, she gave life,

Again she made to die ;

She raised a war, appeased a strife

With turning of her eye.

Some said a god did her beget,

But much deceived were they ;

Her father was a rivulet,

Her mother was a fay.

Her lineaments, so fine that were,

She from the fairy took ;

Her beauties and complexion clear

By nature from the brook.


Christmas Tide

It faded on the crowing of the cock.
Some say, that ever 'gainst that season comes
Wherein our Saviour's birth is celebrated,
This bird of dawning singeth all night long :
And then they say no spirit dares stir abroad ;
The nights are wholesome ; then no planets strike.
No fairy takes, nor witch hath power to charm,
So hallow'd and so gracious is the time.


"O then, I see"

O THEN, I see, Queen Mab hath been with you.
She is the fairies' midwife, and she comes
In shape no bigger than an agate stone
On the forefinger of an alderman ;


Drawn with a team of little atomies

Athwart men's noses as they lie asleep :

Her wagon spokes made of long spinners' legs ;

The cover, of the wings of grasshoppers ;

The traces, of the smallest spider's web ;

The collars, of the moonshine's watery beams ;

Her whip, of cricket's bone, the lash, of film ;

Her wagoner, a small grey-coated gnat,

Not half so big as a round little worm,

Pricked- from the lazy finger of a maid :

Her chariot is an empty hazel nut,

Made by the joiner squirrel, or old grub,

Time out of mind the fairies' coachmakers.

And in this state she gallops night by night,

Through lovers' brains, and then they dream of love ;

On courtiers' knees that dream on court'sies straight ;

O'er lawyers' fingers, who straight dream on fees ;

O'er ladies' lips, who straight on kisses dream ;

Which oft the angry Mab with blisters plagues,

Because their breaths with sweetmeats tainted are.

Sometimes she gallops o'er a courtier's nose,

And then dreams he of smelling out a suit :

And sometime comes she with a tithepig's tail,

Tickling a parson's nose as 'a lies asleep,

Then he dreams of another benefice.

Sometime she driveth o'er a soldier's neck,

And then dreams he of cutting foreign throats,

Of breaches, ambuscadoes, Spanish blades,

Of healths five fathoms deep ; and then anon

Drums in his ear, at which he starts and wakes ;

And being thus frighted, swears a prayer or two,

And sleeps again. This is that very Mab,

That plaits the manes of horses in the night ;

And bakes the elf-locks in foul sluttish hairs ;

Which, once untangled, much misfortune bodes.



The Fairy Banquet

. . . THESE twain

By a round little hole had soon descried
A trim feat room, about a fathom wide,
As much in height, and twice as much in length,
Out of the main rock cut by artful strength.
The two-leaved door was of the mother-pearl,
Hinged and nailed with gold. Full many a. girl
Of the sweet fairy line, wrought in the loom
That fitted those rich hangings clad the room.

The floor could of respect complain no loss,
But neatly covered with discoloured moss,
Woven into stories, might for such a piece
Vie with the richest carpets brought from Greece.
A little mushroom (that was now grown thinner,
By being one time shaven for the dinner
Of one of Spain's grave grandees, and that day
Out of his greatness' larder stol'n away)

This mushroom (on a frame of wax y-pight,
Wherein was wrought the strange and cruel fight
Betwixt the troublous commonwealth of flies,
And the sly spider with industrious thighs)
Served for a table ; then a little elf
(If possible, far lesser than itself),
Brought in the covering made of white rose-leaves,
And (wrought together with the spinner's sleaves)
Met in the table's middle in right angles ;
The trenchers were of little silver spangles ;
The salt, the small bone of a fish's back,
Whereon in little was expressed the wrack
Of that deplored mouse, from whence hath sprung
That furious battle Homer whilom sung
Betwixt the frogs and mice ; so neatly wrought,
You could not work it lesser in a thought.


Then on the table, for their bread, was put
The milk-white kernels of the hazel-nut ;

The ewer and basin were, as fitting well,

A periwinkle and a cockle-shell :

The glasses pure, and thinner than we can

See from the sea-betrothed Venetian,

Were all of ice not made to overlast

One supper, and betwixt two cowslips cast :

A prettier fashion hath not yet been told,

So neat the glass was, and so feat the mould.

A little spruce elf then (just of the set
Of the French dancer or such marionette)
Clad in a suit of rush, woven like a mat,
A monkshood flow'r then serving for a hat :
Under a cloak made of the spider's loom :
This fairy (with them held a lusty groom)
Brought in his bottles ; neater were there none.
And every bottle was a cherry-stone.
To each a seed-pearl served for a screw,
And most of them were filled with early dew.
Some choicer ones, as for the king most meet,
Held mel-dew and the honeysuckle's sweet.

The Fairy Musicians

THE treble was a three-mouthed grasshopper,

Well-tutored by a skilful chorister :

An ancient master, that did use to play

The friskings which the lambs do dance in May.

And long time was the chiefest called to sing,

When on the plains the fairies made a ring ;

Then a field-cricket, with a note full clean,

Sweet and unforced and softly sung the mean,

To whose accord, and with no mickle labour,

A pretty fairy played upon a tabor :

The case was of a hazel-nut, the heads

A bat's wing dressed, the snares were silver threads ;


A little stiffened lamprey's skin did suit
All the rest well, and served them for a flute ;
And to all these a deep well-breasted gnat,
That had good sides, knew well his sharp and flat,
Sung a good compass, making no wry face,
Was there as fittest for a chamber-bass.

These choice musicians to their merry king
Gave all the pleasures which their art could bring.


Oberon's Feast

A LITTLE mushroom-table spread,

After short prayers they set on bread,

A moon-parched grain of purest wheat,

With some small glitt'ring grit, to eat

His choice bits with ; then in a trice

They make a feast less great than nice.

But all this while his eye is served,

We must not think his ear was starved ;

But that there was in place to stir

His spleen, the chirring grasshopper,

The merry cricket, puling fly,

The piping gnat for minstrelsy.

And now, we must imagine first,

The elves present, to quench his thirst,

A pure seed-pearl of infant dew,

Brought and besweetened in a blue

And pregnant violet ; which done,

His killing eyes begin to run

Quite through the table, where he spies

The horns of papery butterflies,

Of which he eats ; and tastes a little

Of that we call the cuckoo's spittle.

A little fuz-ball pudding stands

By, yet not blessed by his hands,

That was too coarse ; but then forthwith

He ventures boldly on the pith


Of sugared rush, and eats the sag

And well be-strutted bee's sweet bag ;

Gladding his palate with some store

Of emmets' eggs ; what would he more,

But beards of mice, a newt's stewed thigh,

A bloated earwig, and a fly ;

With the red-capped worm, that's shut

Within the concave of a nut,

Brown as his tooth. A little moth,

Late fattened in a piece of cloth ;

With withered cherries, mandrake's ears,

Mole's eyes ; to these the slain stag's tears ;

The unctuous dewlaps of a snail,

The broke-heart of a nightingale

O'ercome in music ; with a wine

Ne'er ravished from the flattering vine,

But gently pressed from the soft side

Of the most sweet and dainty bride,

Brought in a dainty daisy, which

He fully quaffs up to bewitch

His blood to height ; this done, commended

Grace by his priest ; the feast is ended.


The Fairy King

WHEN the monthly horned queen
Grew jealous that the stars had seen
Her rising from Endymion's arms,
In rage she threw her misty charms
Into the bosom of the night,
To dim their curious, prying sight ;
Then did the dwarfish fairy elves,
Having first attired themselves,
Prepare to dress their Oberon King
In light robes fit for revelling :
With a cobweb shirt more thin,
Than ever spider since could spin,


Bleached to the whiteness of the snow,

By the stormy winds that blow

In the vast and frozen air

No shirt half so fine, so fair.

A rich waistcoat they did bring,

Made of the trout-fly's gilded wing :

At which his elfship 'gan to fret,

Swearing it would make him sweat

Even with its weight : he needs would wear

A waistcoat wrought of downy hair,

New shaven from an eunuch's chin,

That pleas'd him well, 'twas wondrous thin ;

The outside of his doublet was

Made of the four-leav'd, true lov'd, grass

Changed into so fine a gloss,

With the oil of crispy moss,

It made a rainbow in the night,

Which gave a lustre passing light :

On every seam there was a lace

Drawn by the unctuous snail's slow pace

To which the fin'st, pur'st silver thread

Compared, did look like dull pale lead.

Each button was a sparkling eye

Ta'en from the speckled adder's fry ;

And for coolness next the skin,

'Twas with white poppy lined within.

His breeches of the fleece was wrought,

Which from Colchos Jason brought ;

Spun into so fine a yarn,

No mortal wight might it discern,

Weaved by Arachne on her loom,

Just before she had her doom.

A rich mantle he did wear,

Made of tinsel gossamer ;

Beflowered over with a few

Diamond stars of morning dew ;

Dyed crimson in a maiden's blush ;

Lin'd with humble-bee's soft plush.

His cap was all of ladies' love,

So wondrous light that it would move,


If any humming gnat or fly
Buzz'd the air in passing by.
About his neck a wreath of pearl
Dropt from the eyes of some poor girl,
Pinched, because she had forgot
To leave clean water in the pot.
And for's feather he did wear,
Old Nisus' fatal purple hair,
The sword y-girded to his thigh
Was smallest blade of finest rye ;
A pair of buskins they did bring
Of the cowlady's coral wing,
Powdered o'er with spots of jet,
And lin'd with purple violet.
His belt was made of myrtle leaves,
Plaited in small curious threaves,
Beset with amber cowslip's studs,
And fringed about with daisy buds,
In which his bugle horn was hung,
Made of the babbling Echo's tongue,
Which set unto his moon-burnt lip
He winds, and then his fairies skip ;
At that the lazy drone 'gan sound,
And each did trip a fairy round.


Queen Mab

THIS is Mab, the mistress Fairy,
That doth nightly rob the dairy,
And can help or hurt the churning,
As she please without discerning.

She that pinches country wenches,
If they rub not clean their benches,
And with sharper nails remembers
When they rake not up their embers


But if so they chance to feast her,
In a shoe she drops a tester.

This is she that empties cradles,
Takes out children, puts in ladles :
Trains forth midwives in their slumber,
With a sieve the holes to number ;
And then leads them from her burrows,
Home through ponds and water-furrows.


She can start our Franklin's daughters,
In their sleep, with shrieks and laughters ;
And on sweet St Anna's night,
Feed them with a promised sight,
Some of husbands, some of lovers,
Which an empty dream discovers.



The Fairies

IF ye will with Mab find grace,

Set each platter in his place ;

Rake the fire up, and get

Water in, ere sun be set.

Wash your pails and cleanse your dairies,

Sluts are loathsome to the fairies ;

Sweep your house : Who doth not so,

Mab will pinch her by the toe.


The Beggar to Mab, the Fairy Queen

PLEASE your Grace, from out your store

Give an alms to one that's poor,

That your mickle may have more.

Black I'm grown for want of meat,

Give me then an ant to eat,

Or the cleft ear of a mouse

Over-sour'd in drink of souse ;

Or, sweet lady, reach to me

The abdomen of a bee ;

Or commend a cricket's hip,

Or his huckson, to my scrip ;

Give for bread, a little bit

Of a pease that 'gins to chit,

And my full thanks take for it.

Flour of fuz-balls, that's too good

For a man in needy-hood ;

But the meal of mill-dust can

Well content a craving man ;

Any orts the elves refuse

Well will serve the beggar's use.

But if this may seem too much

For an alms, then give me such


Little bits that nestle there
In the pris'ner's pannier.
So a blessing light upon
You, and mighty Oberon ;
That you plenty last till when
I return your alms again.


From the Night-Piece to Julia

HER eyes the glow-worm lend thee,
The shooting stars attend thee ;

And the elves also,

Whose little eyes glow
Like the sparks of fire, befriend thee.

No Will-o'-th'-Wisp mis-light thee,
Nor snake or slow-worm bite thee ;

But on, on thy way,

Not making a stay,
Since ghost there's none to affright thee.


" Good Luck befriend thee ''

GOOD luck befriend thee, Son ; for at thy birth

The faery ladies danced upon the hearth.

The drowsy nurse hath sworn she did them spy

Come tripping to the room where thou didst lie,

And, sweetly singing round about thy bed,

Strew all their blessings on thy sleeping head.

She heard them give thee this, that thou shouldst still

From eyes of mortals walk invisible.



" Some say no evil thing "

SOME say no evil thing that walks by night,
In fog or fire, by lake or moorish fen,
Blue meagre hag, or stubborn unlaid ghost,
That breaks his magic chains at curfew time,
No goblin or swart faery of the mine,
Hath hurtful power o'er true virginity.


" Sometimes, with secure delight "

SOMETIMES, with secure delight,

The upland hamlets will invite,

When the merry bells ring round,

And jocund rebecks sound

To many a youth and many a maid

Dancing in the chequered shade,

And young and old come forth to play

On a sunshine holiday,

Till the live-long daylight fail :

Then to the spicy nut-brown ale,

With stories told of many a feat,

How Faery Mab the junkets eat.

She was pinched, and pulled, she said ;

And he, by Friar's lantern led,

Tells how the drudging goblin sweat

To earn his cream-bowl duly set,

When in one night, ere glimpse of morn,

His shadowy flail hath threshed the corn

That ten day-labourers could not end ;

Then lies him down, the lubber fiend,

And, stretched out all the chimney's length,

Basks at the fire his hairy strength,

And crop-full out of doors he flings,

Ere the first cock his matin rings.



Damon the Mower

I AM the mower Damon, known
Through all the meadows I have mown.
On me the morn her dew distils
Before her darling daffodils ;
And if at noon my toil me heat,
The sun himself licks off my sweat ;
While, going home, the evening sweet
In cowslip-water bathes my feet.

Nor am I so deformed to sight,
If in my scythe I looked right ;
In which I see my picture done,
As in a crescent moon the sun.
The deathless fairies take me oft
To lead them in their dances soft ;
And when I tune myself to sing,
About me they contract their ring.


" Benighted Travellers "

BENIGHTED travellers now lose their way
Whom Will-of-the-wisp bewitches ;

About and about he leads them astray

Through bogs, through hedges and ditches.


The Elfin Gathering

HAVE you not oft, in the still wind,
Heard sylvan notes of a strange kind,
That rose one moment, and then fell
Swooning away like a far knell ?
Listen ! that wave of perfume broke
Into sea-music, as I spoke,


Fainter than that which seems to roar
On the moon's silver-sanded shore,
When through the silence of the night
Is heard the ebb and flow of light.
O shut the eye, and ope the ear !
Do you not hear, or think you hear,
A w'ide hush o'er the woodland pass
Like distant waving fields of grass j
Voices ! ho ! ho ! a band is coming,
Loud as ten thousand bees a-humming,
Or ranks of little merry men
Tromboning deeply from the glen,
And now as if they changed, and rung
Their citterns small, and riband-slung,
Over their gallant shoulders hung !
A chant ! a chant ! that swoons and swells
Like soft winds jangling meadow-bells :

But mixt with whoops, and infant-laughter,
Shouts following one another after.

Small shouts, indeed, as wild-bees knew

Both how to hum, and hollo too.

What ! is the living meadow sown

With dragon teeth, as long agone ?

Or is an army on the plains

Of this sweet clime, to fight with cranes ?

Helmet and hauberk, pike and lance,

Gorget and glaive through the long grass glance ;
Red-men, and blue-men, and buff-men, small,
Loud-mouthed captains, and ensigns tall,
Grenadiers, light-bobs, inch-people all,
They come ! they come ! with martial blore
Clearing a terrible path before ;
Ruffle the high-peaked flags i' the wind, _
Mourn the long-answering trumpets behind,
Telling how deep the close files are-
Make way for the stalv art sons of war !
Hurrah ! the buff-cheeked bugle band,
Each with a loud reed in his hand !


Hurrah ! the pattering company,
Each with a drum-bell at his knee !
Hurrah ! the sash-capt cymbal swingers !
Hurrah ! the klingle-klangle ringers !
Hurrah ! hurrah ! the elf-knights enter,
Each with his grasshopper at a canter !
His tough spear of a wild oat made,
His good sword of a grassy blade,
His buckram suit of shining laurel,
His shield of bark, embossed with coral ;
See how the plumy champion keeps
His proud steed clambering on his hips,
With foaming jaw pinn'd to his breast,
Blood-rolling eyes, and arched crest ;
Over his and his rider's head
A broad sheet butterfly banner spread.

Hard on the prancing heels of these
Come on the pigmy Thyades !
Mimics and mummers, masqueraders,
Soft flutists, and sweet serenaders
Guitarring o'er the level green,
Or tapping the parched tambourine,
As swaying to, and swaying fro,
Over the stooping flowers they go,
That laugh within their greeny breasts
To feel such light feet on their crests,
And even themselves a-dancing seem
Under the weight that presses them.

But hark ! the trumpet's royal clangour
Strikes silence with a voice of anger :
Raising its broad mouth to the sun,
As he would bring Apollo down,
The in-backed, swoln, elf-winder fills
With its great roar the fairy hills ;
Each woodland tuft for terror shakes,
The field mouse in her mansion quakes,
The heart-struck wren falls through the branches,
Wide stares the earwig on his haunches ;


From trees, which mortals take for flowers,
Leaves of all hues fall off in showers ;
So strong the blast, the voice so dread,
'Twould wake the very fairy dead !


Popular Rhymes of Scotland


SPUNKY, Spunky, ye're a jumping light,

Ye ne'er tak home the school-weans right ;

But through the rough moss, and owre the hag-pen,

Ye drown the ill anes in your watery den !

Gin ye ca' me imp or elf,

I rede ye, look weel to yourself ;

Gin ye ca' me fairy,

I'll work ye muckle tarrie ;

Gin gude neighbour ye ca' me,

Then gude neighbour I will be ;

But gin ye ca' me seely wight,

I'll be your friend both day and night.

He wha tills the fairies' green,

Nae luck again shall hae ;
And he wha spills the fairies' ring,

Betide him want and wae ;
For weirdless days and weary nights

Are his till his deeing day !


THIS is the day when the fairy kind

Sit weeping alone for their hopeless lot,

And the wood-maiden sighs to the sighing wind,

And the mermaiden weeps in her crystal grot ;

For this is a day that the deed was wrought,

In which we have neither part nor share,


For the children of clay was salvation bought,

But not for the forms of sea or air !

And ever the mortal is most forlorn,

Who meeteth our race on the Friday morn.


The Fountain of the Fairies

THERE is a fountain in the forest call'd

The Fountain of the Fairies : when a child

With a delightful wonder I have heard

Tales of the elfin tribe who on its banks

Hold midnight revelry. An ancient oak,

The goodliest of the forest, grows beside ;

Alone it stands, upon a green grass plat,

By the woods bounded like some little isle.

It ever hath been deem'd their favourite tree,

They love to lie and rock upon its leaves,

And bask in moonshine. Here the woodman leads

His boy, and showing him the green-sward mark'd

With darker circlets, says the midnight dance

Hath traced the rings, and bids him spare the tree.

Fancy had cast a spell upon the place

Which made it holy ; and the villagers

Would say that never evil thing approach'd

Unpunish'd there. The strange and fearful pleasure

Which fill'd me by that solitary spring,

Ceased not in riper years ; and now it wakes

Deeper delight, and more mysterious awe.


From " The Plea of the Midsummer Fairies "

It was a shady and sequester'd scene,
Like those famed gardens of Boccaccio,
Planted with his own laurels ever green,
And roses that for endless summer blow ;
And there were founting springs to overflow


Their marble basins, and cool green arcades
Of tall o'erarching sycamores, to throw
Athwart the dappled path their dancing shades,
With timid coneys cropping the green blades.

And there were crystal pools, peopled with fish,
Argent and gold ; and some of Tyrian skin,
Some crimson-barr'd ; and ever at a wish
They rose obsequious till the wave grew thin
As glass upon their backs, and then dived in,
Quenching their ardent scales in watery gloom ;
Whilst others with fresh hues row'd forth to win

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