Dora Owen.

The book of fairy poetry online

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My changeable regard, for so we doom
Things born of thought to vanish or to bloom.

And there were many birds of many dyes,
From tree to tree still faring to and fro,
And stately peacocks with their splendid eyes,
And gorgeous pheasants with their golden glow,
Like Iris just bedabbled in her bow,
Besides some vocalists, without a name,
That oft on fairy errands come and go,
With accents magical ; and all were tame,
And peckled at my hand where'er I came.

And for my sylvan company, in lieu

Of Pampinea with her lively peers,

Sat Queen Titania with her pretty crew,

All in their liveries quaint, with elfin gears,

For she was gracious to my childish years,

And made me free of her enchanted round ;

Wherefore this dreamy scene she still endears,

And plants her court upon a verdant mound,

Fenced with umbrageous woods and groves profound.

" Ah me," she cries, " was ever moonlight seen
So clear and tender for our midnight trips ?
Go some one forth, and with a trump convene
My lieges all ! " Away the goblin skips
A pace or two apart, and deftly strips




But Puck was seated on a spider's



"THE PLEA OF THE MIDSUMMER FAIRIES" 167

The ruddy skin from a sweet rose's cheek,
Then blows the shuddering leaf between his lips,
Making it utter forth a shrill small shriek,
Like a fray'd bird in the grey owlet's beak.

And lo ! upon my fiz'd delighted ken
Appear'd the loyal Fays. Some by degrees
Crept from the primrose buds that open'd then,
And some from bell-shap'd blossoms like the bees,
Some from the dewy meads, and rushy leas,
Flew up like chafers when the rustics pass ;
Some from the rivers, others from tall trees
Dropp'd, like shed blossoms, silent to the grass,
Spirits and elfins small, of every class.

Peri and Pixy, and quaint Puck the Antic,
Brought Robin Goodfellow, that merry swain ;
And stealthy Mab, queen of old realms romantic,
Came too, from distance, in her tiny wain,
Fresh dripping from a cloud some bloomy rain,
Then circling the bright Moon, had washed her car,
And still bedew'd it with a various stain :
Lastly came Ariel, shooting from a star,
Who bears all fairy embassies afar.

" Alas," quoth she, " ye know our fairy lives
Are leased upon the fickle faith of men ;
Not measured out against fate's mortal knives,
Like human gossamers, we perish when
We fade, and are forgot in worldly ken.

* * *

Pity it was to hear the elfins' wail
Rise up in concert from their mingled dread ;
Pity it was to see them, all so pale,
Gaze on the grass as for a dying bed ;
But Puck was seated on a spider's thread,
That hung between two branches of a briar,
And 'gan to swing and gambol heels o'er head,
Like any Southwark tumbler on a wire,
For him no present grief could long inspire. TOM HOOD.



168 THE BOOK OF FAIRY POETRY



Flower-Fairies

FLOWER-FAIRIES have you found them,
When the summer's dusk is falling,

With the glow-worms watching round them ;
Have you heard them softly calling ?

Silent stand they through the noonlight,
In their flower-shapes, fair and quiet ;

But they hie them forth by moonlight,
Ready then to sing and riot.

I have heard them ; I have seen them,
Light from their bright petals raying ;

And the trees bent down to screen them,
Great, wise trees, too old for playing.

Hundreds of them, all together,
Flashing flocks of flying fairies,

Crowding through the summer weather.
Seeking where the coolest air is.

And they tell the trees that know them,
As upon their boughs they hover,

Of the things that chance below them,
How the Rose has a new lover.

And the gay Rose laughs, protesting,

" Neighbour Lily is as fickle."
Then they search where birds are nesting,

And their feathers softly tickle.

Then away they all dance, sweeping,
Having drunk their fill of gladness.

But the trees, their night-watch keeping,
Thrill with tender, pitying sadness ;



LOB LIE BY THE FIRE 169

For they know of bleak December,
When each bough left cold and bare is,

When they only shall remember
The bright visits of the fairies,

When the roses and the lilies

Shall be gone, to come back never,
From the land where all so still is

That they sleep and sleep for ever.

PHILIP BOURKE MARSTON.

The Elf Toper

EACH twilight-come

At beetle-drum
For nectar he a-hunting goes,

The twisted bine

He stoops for wine,
Or sups it fresh from off the rose.

From night to morn

His amber horn
He fills at every honey-fountain,

And draineth up

Each flowery cup

That brims with balm on mead or mountain.

GEORGE DARLEY.

Lob Lie by the Fire

HE squats by the fire
On his three-legged stool,
When all in the house
With slumber are full.

And he warms his great hands
Hanging loose from each knee,
And he whistles as soft
As the night wind at sea.



170 THE BOOK OF FAIRY POETRY

For his work now is done ;
All the water is sweet ;
He has turned each brown loaf,
And breathed magic on it.

The milk in the pan

And the bacon on beam

He has " spelled " with his thumb,

And bewitched has the dream.

Not a mouse, not a moth,
Not a spider but sat,
And quaked as it wondered
What next he'd be at.

Now hunched by the fire
While the embers burn low,
He nods until daybreak,
And at daybreak he'll go.

Soon the first cock will 'light
From his perch and point high
His beak at the Ploughboy
Grown pale in the sky ;

And crow will he shrill ;
Then, meek as a mouse,
Lob will rise up and shuffle
Straight out of the house.

His supper for breakfast ;
For wages his work ;
And to warm his great hands
Tust an hour in the mirk.

WALTER DE LA MARE.



THE TRUANTS 171



The Fairy Lough

LOUGHAREEMA ! Loughareema

Lies so high among the heather ;
A little lough, a dark lough,

The wather's black an' deep.
Ould herons go a-fishin' there,

An' sea-gulls all together
Float roun' the one green island

On the fairy lough asleep.

Loughareema, Loughareema ;

When the sun goes down at seven,
When the hills are dark and airy,

'Tis a curlew whistles sweet !
Then somethin' rustles all the reeds

That stand so thick an' even ;
A little wave runs up the shore

An' flees, as if on feet.

Loughareema, Loughareema !

Stars come out, an' stars are hidin' ;
The wather whispers on the stones,

The flittherin' moths are free.
On'st before the mornin' light

The Horsemen will come ridin'
Roun' an' roun' the fairy lough,

An' no one there to see.

MOIRA O'NEILL.



The Truants

ERE my heart beats too coldly and faintly

To remember sad things, yet be gay,
I would sing a brief song of the world's little children

Magic hath stolen away.



172 THE BOOK OF FAIRY POETRY

The primroses scattered by April,

The stars of the wide Milky Way,
Cannot outnumber the hosts of the children

Magic hath stolen away.

The buttercup green of the meadows,

The snow of the blossoming may,
Lovelier are not than the legion of children

Magic hath stolen away.

The waves tossing surf in the moonbeam,

The albatross lone on the spray,
Alone know the tears wept in vain for the children

Magic hath stolen away.

In vain : for at hush of the evening,
When the stars twinkle into the grey,

Seems to echo the far-away calling of children
Magic hath stolen away.

WALTER DE LA MARE.



The Ruin

WHEN the last colours of the day
Have from their burning ebbed away,
About that ruin, cold and lone,
The cricket shrills from stone to stone ;
And scattering o'er its darkened green,
Bands of the fairies may be seen,
Chattering like grasshoppers, their feet
Dancing a thistledown dance round it :
While the great gold of the mild moon
Tinges their tiny acorn shoon.

WALTER DE LA MARE.



DREAMS WITHIN DREAMS 173



From the Hills of Dream

ACROSS the silent stream

Where the slumber-shadows go,
From the dim blue Hills of Dream

I have heard the west wind blow.

Who hath seen that fragrant land,
Who hath seen that unscanned west ?

Only the listless hand

And the unpulsing breast.

But when the west wind blows

I see moon-lances gleam,
Where the Host of Faerie flows

Athwart the Hills of Dream.

And a strange song I have heard

By a shadowy stream,
And the singing of a snow-white bird

On the Hills of Dream.

FIONA MACLEOD.



Dreams within Dreams

I HAVE gone out and seen the lands of Faery,

And have found sorrow and peace and beauty there,

And have not known one from the other, but found each
Lovely and gracious alike, delicate and fair.

" They are children of one mother, she that is called Longing,
Desire, Love," one told me : and another, " her secret name

Is Wisdom " : and another, " they are not three but one " :
And another, " touch them not, seek them not, they are wind
and flame."



174 THE BOOK OF FAIRY POETRY

I have come back from the hidden, silent lands of Faery
And have forgotten the music of its ancient streams :

And now flame and wind and the long, grey, wandering wave
And beauty and peace and sorrow are dreams within dreams.

FIONA MACLEOD.



The Lords of Shadow

WHERE the water whispers 'mid the shadowy rowan-trees
I have heard the Hidden People like the hum of swarming bees :
And when the moon has risen and the brown burn glisters grey
I have seen the Green Host marching in laughing disarray.

Dalua then must sure have blown a sudden magic air
Or with the mystic dew have sealed my eyes from seeing fair :
For the great Lords of Shadow who tread the deeps of night
Are no frail puny folk who move in dread of mortal sight.

For sure Dalua laughed alow, Dalua the fairy Fool,

When with his wildfire eyes he saw me 'neath the rowan-shadowed

pool :

His touch can make the chords of life a bitter jangling tune,
The false glows true, the true glows false, beneath his moontide

rune.

The laughter of the Hidden Host is terrible to hear,
The Hounds of Death would harry me at lifting of a spear :
Mayhap Dalua made for me the hum of swarming bees
And sealed my eyes with dew beneath the shadowy rowan-trees.

FIONA MACLEOD.



The Nightingale in Fairyland

THOU wast not born for death, immortal Bird !

No hungry generations tread thee down ;
The voice I hear this passing night was heard

In ancient days by emperor and clown ;
Perhaps the self-same song that found a path

Through the sad heart of Ruth, when sick for home,



THE FAIRY BOY 175

She stood in tears amid the alien corn ;

The same that oft-times hath
Charm'd magic casements, opening on the foam
Of perilous seas, in faery lands forlorn.

JOHN KEATS.



From " A Vision of Mermaids "



I KNOW not why, but know that sadness dwells
On Mermaids whether that they ring the knells
Of sea-men whelm'd in chasms of the mid-main,
As poets sing ; or that it is a pain
To know the dusk depths of the ponderous sea,
The miles profound of solid green, and be
With loath'd cold fishes, far from man, or what ;
I know the sadness, but the cause know not.

GERARD HOPKINS.



The Fairy Boy

A LITTLE Fairy in a tree
Wrinkled his wee face at me :
And he sang a song of joy
All about a little boy,
Who upon a winter night,
On a midnight long ago,
Had been wrapt away from sight
Of the world and all its woe :
Wrapt away,
Snapt away

To a place where children play
In the sunlight every day.
Where the winter is forbidden,
Where no child may older grow,
Where a flower is never hidden
Underneath a pall of snow ;



176 THE BOOK OF FAIRY POETRY

Dancing gaily

Free from sorrow,

Under dancing summer skies,

Where no grim mysterious morrow

Ever comes to terrorise.

MOIRA O'NEILL



Children, children, don't forget "

CHILDREN, children, don't forget
There are elves and fairies yet.




Where the knotty hawthorn grows

Look for prints of fairy toes.

Where the grassy rings are green

Moonlight dances shall be seen.

Watch and wait : O lucky you,

If you find a fairy shoe :

For a ransom he will pay,

Hobbling barefoot all the day.

Lay it on his mushroom seat,

Wish your wish, and go your way.

If your wish should be discreet,

Never fear but he will pay. DORA OWEN.



GOBLIN FEET 177

The Fairy Minister

PEOPLE of Peace ! A peaceful man,

Well worthy of your love was he,
Who, while the roaring Garry ran

Red with the life-blood of Dundee,
While coats were turning, crowns were falling,

Wandered along his valley still,
And heard your mystic voices calling

From fairy-knowe and haunted hill.
He heard, he saw, he knew too well

The secrets of your fairy-clan.
You stole him from the haunted dell,

Who nevermore was seen of man.
Now far from heaven, and safe from hell,

Unknown of earth, he wanders free.
Would that he might return and tell

Of his mysterious company !
For we have tired the Folk of Peace ;

No morn they tax our corn and oil ;
Their dances on the moorland cease,

The Brownie stints his wonted toil.
No more shall any shepherd meet

The ladies of the fairy-clan,
Nor are their deathly kisses sweet

On lips of any earthly man.
And half I envy him, who now

Clothed in her Court's enchanted green,
By moonlit loch or mountain's brow

Is Chaplain to the Fairy Queen.

ANDREW LANG.

Goblin Feet

I AM off down the road

Where the fairy lanterns glowed
And the little pretty flittermice are flying :

A slender band of grey

It runs creepily away,
And the hedges and the grasses are a-sighing,



178 THE BOOK OF FAIRY POETRY

The air is full of wings
And of blundering beetle-things
That warn you with their whirring and their humming.

! I hear the tiny horns
Of enchanted leprechauns

And the padding feet of many gnomes a-coming !

O ! the lights : O ! the gleams : O ! the little tinkly sounds :

O ! the rustle of their noiseless little robes :
O ! the echo of their feet of their little happy feet ;

O ! their swinging lamps in little starlit globes.

1 must follow in their train
Down the crooked fairy-lane

Where the coney-rabbits long ago have gone,

And where silverly they sing

In a moving moonlit ring
All a-twinkle with the jewels they have on.

They are fading round the turn

Where the glow-worms palely burn
And the echo of their padding feet is dying !

O ! it's knocking at my heart

Let me go ! O let me start !
For the little magic hours are all a-flying.

O ! the warmth ! O ! the hum ! O ! the colours in the dark !

O ! the gauzy wings of golden honey-flies !
O ! the music of their feet of their dancing goblin feet !

O ! the magic ! O ! the sorrow when it dies.

J. R. R. TOLKIEN.



The Last Fay

I HAVE wandered where the cuckoo fills
The woodland with her magic voice :
I have wandered on the brows of hills
Where the last heavenward larks rejoice




" And the padding feet of many gnomes a-coming I "



THE LAST FAY 179

Far I have wandered by the wave,

By shadowy loch and swaying stream,

But never have I found the grave

Of him who made me a wandering Dream.

If I could find that lonely place

And him who lies asleep therein,

I'd bow my head and kiss his face

And sleep and rest and peace would win.

He made me, he who lies asleep
Hidden in some forgotten spot
Where winds sweep and rains weep
And foot of wayfarer cometh not :
He made me, Merlin, ages ago,
He shaped me in an idle hour,
He made a heart of fire to glow
And hid it in an April shower !
For I am but a shower that calls
A thin sweet song of rain, and pass :
Even the wind-whirled leaf that falls
Lingers awhile within the grass,
But I am blown from hill to vale,
From vale to hill like a bird's cry
That shepherds hear a far-off wail
And wood-folk as a drowsy sigh.

And I am tired, whom Merlin made.
I would lie down in the heart of June
And fall asleep in a leafy shade
And wake not till in the Faery Moon
Merlin shall rise our lord and king,
To leave for aye the tribes of Man,
And let the clarion summons ring
The kingdom of the Immortal Clan.
If but in some green place I'd see
An ancient, tangled, moss-like beard
And half-buried boulder of a knee
I should not flutter away afeared !



180 THE BOOK OF FAIRY POETRY

With leap of joy, with low glad cry
Fd sink beside the sleeper fair :
He would not grudge my fading sigh
In the ancient stillness brooding there.

FIONA MACLEOD.



The Horns of Elfland

THE splendour falls on castle walls

And snowy summits old in story ;
The long light shakes across the lakes,

And the wild cataract leaps in glory.
Blow, bugle, blow, set the wild echoes flying,
Blow, bugle ; answer, echoes, dying, dying, dying.

O hark, O hear ! how thin and clear,

And thinner, clearer, farther going !
O sweet and far from cliff and scar

The horns of Elfland faintly blowing !
Blow, let us hear the purple glens replying :
Blow, bugle ; answer, echoes, dying, dying, dying.

ALFRED TENNYSON.



Printed in Grtat Britain
ly Turittall &* Spears, Edinburgh








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