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The book of fairy poetry online

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Aping in fantastic fashion
Every change of human passion,
While o'er our frozen minds they pass,
Like shadows from the mirror'd glass.
Wayward, fickle, is our mood,
Hovering betwixt bad and good,
Happier than brief-dated man,
Living ten times o'er his span ;
Far less happy, for we have
Help nor hope beyond the grave !


Fairies on the Sea-shore

First Fairy. My home and haunt are in every leaf
Whose life is a summer day bright and brief
I live in the depths of the tulip's bower,
I wear a wreath of the cistus flower,
I drink the dew of the blue harebell,
I know the breath of the violet well,
The white and the azure violet ;
But I know not which is the sweetest yet,
I have kiss'd the cheek of the rose,
I have watch'd the lily unclose,
My silver mine is the almond tree,
Who will come dwell with flower and me ?

Chorus of Fairies. Dance we our round, 'tis a summer night,
And our steps are led by the glow-worm's light.

Second Fairy. My dwelling is in the serpentine
Of the rainbow's colour'd line,
See how its rose and amber clings
To the many hues of my radiant wings ;


Mine is the step that bids the earth

Give to the iris flower its birth,

And mine the golden cup to hide,

Where the last faint hue of the rainbow died.

Search the depths of an Indian mine,

Where are the colours to match with mine ?

Chorus. Dance we round, for the gale is bringing
Songs the summer rose is singing.

Third Fairy. I float on the breath of a minstrel's lute,
Or the wandering sounds of a distant flute,
Linger I over the tones that swell
From the pink-veined chords of an ocean-shell ;
I love the skylark's morning hymn,
Or the nightingale heard at the twilight dim,
The echo, the fountain's melody,
These, oh ! these are the spells for me !

Chorus. Hail to the summer night of June ;
See ! yonder has risen our ladye moon.

Fourth Fairy. My palace is in the coral cave
Set with spars by the ocean wave ;
Would ye have gems, then seek them there,
There found I the pearls that bind my hair.
I and the wind together can roam
Over the green waves and their white foam,
See, I have got this silver shell,
Mark how my breath will its smallness swell,
For the Nautilus is my boat
In which I over the waters float :
The moon is shining over the sea,
Who is there will come and sail with me ?

Chorus of Fairies. Our noontide sleep is on leaf and flower
Our revels are held in a moonlit hour,

" For the Nautilus is my boat
In which I over the waters float."


What is there sweet, what is there fair,

And we are not the dwellers there ?

Dance we round, for the morning light

Will put us and our glow-worm lamps to flight !


The Conceited Elf

First Elf. But where is Nephon ? Who can tell ?
Seventh Elf. How wondrous grand he's grown of late !
Eighth Elf. And walks so high ! and slaps his pate

Ten times a moment, as the state

Of fairyland depended on him,

Or titmice had agreed to crown him.
Third Elf. And takes such mighty airs upon him

As I can witness : 'Twas but now

I challenged him to ride the bough,

When pursing bigly " Silly thou !

Trouble me not," said he, and stalked

As stiff as if a radish walked

Past me, forsooth !
First Elf. He has not talked

Of anybody but himself

This mortal day.
Second Elf. Conceited elf !

Would he were bottled on a shelf !


Song of Four Fairies


Sal. Happy, happy glowing fire !

Zep. Fragrant air ! delicious light !

Dus. Let me to my gloom retire !

Bre. I to green-weed rivers bright !


Sal. Happy, happy glowing fire !

Dazzling bowers of soft retire,

Ever let my nourish'd wing,

Like a bat's, still wandering,

Faintly fan your fiery spaces,

Spirit sole in deadly places.

In unhaunted roar and blaze,

Open eyes that never daze,

Let me see the myriad shapes

Of men, and beasts, and fish, and apes,

Portray'd in many a fiery den,

And wrought by spumy bitumen

On the deep intenser roof,

Arched every way aloof,

Let me breathe upon their skies,

And anger their live tapestries ;

Free from cold, and every care,

Of chilly rain, and shivering air.

Zep. Spirit of Fire ! away ! away !
Or your very roundelay
Will sear my plumage newly budded
From its quilled sheath, all studded
With the self-same dews that fell
On the May-grown Asphodel.
Spirit of Fire away ! away !

Bre. Spirit of Fire away ! away !
Zephyr, blue-eyed fairy, turn,
And see my cool sedge-buried urn,
Where it rests its mossy brim
'Mid water-mint and cresses dim ;
And the flowers, in sweet troubles,
Lift their eyes above the bubbles,
Like our Queen, when she would please
To sleep, and Oberon will tease.
Love me, blue-eyed Fairy ! true,
Soothly I am sick for you.

Zep. Gentle Breama ! by the first
Violet young nature nurst,
I will bathe myself with thee,
So you sometimes follow me


To my home, far, far, in west,
Beyond the nimble-wheeled quest
Of the golden-browed sun :
Come with me, o'er tops of trees,
To my fragrant palaces,
Where they ever floating are
Beneath the cherish of a star
CalPd Vesper, who with silver veil
Ever hides his brilliance pale,
Ever gently-drows'd doth keep
Twilight for the Fayes to sleep.
Fear not that your watery hair
Will thii3t in drouthy ringlets there ;
Clouds of stored summer rains
Thou shalt taste, before the stains
Of the mountain soil they take,
And too unlucent for thee make.
I love thee, crystal Fairy, true !
Sooth I am as sick for you !
Sal. Out, ye aguish Fairies, out !
Chilly lovers, what a rout
Keep ye with your frozen breath,
Colder than the mortal death.
Adder-eyed Dusketha, speak,
Shall we leave these, and go seek
In the earth's wide entrails old
Couches warm as theirs are cold ?

for a fiery gloom and thee,
Dusketha, so enchantingly
Freckle-wing'd and lizard-sided !

Dus. By thee, Sprite, will I be guided !

1 care not for cold or heat ;
Frost and flame, or sparks, or sleet,
To my essence are the same ;
But I honour more the flame.
Sprite of Fire, I follow thee
Wheresoever it may be,

To the torrid spouts and fountains,
Underneath earth-quaked mountains
Or, at thy supreme desire,


Touch the very pulse of fire

With my bare unlidded eyes.
Sal. Sweet Dusketha ! paradise !

Off, ye icy Spirits, fly !

Frosty creatures of the sky !
Dus. Breathe upon them, fiery sprite !

D f Away ! away to our delight !

Sal. Go, feed on icicles, while we

Bedded in tongue-flames will be.
Dus. Lead me to these feverous glooms,

Sprite of Fire !
Ere. Me to the blooms,

Blue-eyed Zephyr, of those flowers,

Far in the west where the May-cloud lowers ;

And the beams of still Vesper, when winds are all wist,

Are shed through the rain and the milder mist,

And twilight your floating bowers.


Two Fairies in a Garden

1. " Whither goest, brother Elf ? "

2. " The sun is weak to warm myself
In a thick red tulip's core.
Whither thou ? "

1. " Till day be o'er,
To the dim and deep snow-palace

Of the closest lily-chalice,
Where is veil'd the light of noon
To be like my Lady's moon.
Thou art of the day, I ween ? "

2. " Yet I not disown our Queen,
Nor at Lysc' am backward found,
When the mighty Feast comes round ;

" Off, ye icy Spirits, fly


When She spreads abroad her power
To proclaim a midnight hour
For the pale blue Fays like thee
And the ruddy Elves like me
To mingle in a charmed ring
With a perfect welcoming ;
Guarded from the moon-stroke cold,
And wisp that scares us on the wold."

1. " Swift that Night is drawing near,
When your abrupt and jovial cheer,
Mixes in our misty dance,
Meeting else by rarest chance.

We love dark undew'd recesses
Of the leafy wildernesses,
Or to hide in some cold flow'r,
Shelter'd from the sunlight hour,
And more afflictive mortal eye."

2. " Gladly, gladly, do I spy
Human children playing nigh,
Feel, and so must you, the grace
Of a loving human face.

Else why come you in this place ?

O, my Sister, if we might

Show ourselves to mortal sight

Far more often ! if they knew

Half the friendly turns we do !

Even now, a gentle thought

Would pay my service dimly wrought,

Round these winding garden-walks,

Fruits and flow'rs and leaves and stalks.

Paler favourites of the noon,

Can ye give or take such boon ? "

I. " Chantings, Brother, hear you might,
Softly sung through still of night ;
Calling from the weird North
Dreams like distant echoes forth,


Till through curtain'd shades they creep,

To inlay the gloomy floor of sleep

For babes, and souls that babe-like are :

So we bless them from afar

Like a faint but favouring star.

But tell me how in fields or bowers

Thou hast spent these morning hours ? "

l. " Through the tall hedge I have been,
Shadowy wall of crusted green,
Within whose heart the birds are seen.
Speeding swiftly thence away
To the crowning chestnut-spray,
I watch'd a Tyrant steal along
Would slay the sweet Thrush in her song ;
Warned, she soon broke off from singing,
There we left the branchlet swinging.
Whispering Robin, down the walk,
News of poising, pouncing Hawk,
The Sycamore I next must strew
On every leaf with honey-dew.
And hither now from clouds I run,
For all my morning work is done."

i. " Alas, I wither in the sun,
Witless drawn to leave my nest
Ere the day be laid to rest !
But to-night we lightly troop
By the young Moon's silver hoop ;
Weaving wide our later ranks
As on evening river-banks
Shifting clouds of midges glance
Through mazes of their airy dance :
O might you come, O might you see
All our shadow'd revelry !
Yet the next night shall be rarer,
Next and next and next, still fairer ;
We are waxing every night,
Till our joy be full and bright ;


Then as slowly do we wane
With gentle loss that makes no pain.
For thus are we with life endued :
Ye, I trow, have rougher food."

2. " Yes : with fragrant soul we're fed
Of every flower whose cheek is red,


Shunning yellow, blue, and white ;

And southward go, at the nightingale's flight

Many the Faery Nations be.

Oh ! how I long, I long to see

The mooned midnight of our Feast

Flushing amber through the east,

When every cap in Elfindom

Into that great ring shall come,

Owf and Elf and Fairy blended,

Till th' imperial time be ended !

Even those fantastic Sprites

Lay aside their dear delights


Of freakish mischief and annoyance
In the universal joyance,
One of whom I saw of late
As I peep'd through window-grate,
(Under roof I may not enter)
Haunt the housewife to torment her,
Tangle up her skein of silk,
Throw a mouse into her milk,
Hide her thimble, scorch her roast,
Quickly drive her mad almost ;
And I too vex'd, because I would
Have brought her succour if I could.

But where shall this be holden, say ?

Far away ? "

" O, far away,
Over river must we fly,
Over the sea and the mountain high,
Over city, seen afar
Like a low and misty star,
Soon beneath us glittering
Like million spark-worms. But our wing,
For the flight will ne'er suffice.
Some are training Flittermice,
I a Silver Moth."

" Beware

How I'll thrid the vaulted air !
A Dragon-fly with glassy wings,
Born beside the meadow-springs,
That can arrow-swiftly glide,
Thorough the glowing eventide,
Nor at twilight-fall grow slack,
Shall bear me on his long blue back.
Dew-stars, meteors of the night,
May not strike him with affright,
He can needle through the wood,
That's like a green earth-chained cloud,


Mountain-summits deftly rake,
Draw swift line o'er plain and lake.
If at Lysco I be last,
Other elves must journey fast.
Lu a vo ! "

i. " But, Elf, I rede,

Of all your Herbs take special heed.
Our Mistress tholes no garden flowers,
Though we have freedom of these bowers.
Tell me what you mean to treasure,
Each in 's atom ? "

2. " Gold-of-Pleasure,

Medic, Plumeseed, Fountain-arrow,
Vervain, Hungry-grass, and Yarrow,
Quatrefoil and Melilot."

i. " These are well. And I have got
Moonwort and the Filmy Fern,
Gather'd nicely on the turn.
Wo to Fairy that shall bring
Bugloss for an offering,
Toad-flax, Barley of the Wall,
Enchanter's Nightshade, worst of all.
Oh, brother, hush ! I faint with fear
A mortal footstep threatens near."

" None can see us, none can hear
Yet, to make thee less afraid,
Hush we both as thou hast pray'd.
I will seek the verse to spell
Written round my dark flow'r's bell,
To sing at sunset. So, Farewell ! "



The Mermaid

Who would be
A mermaid fair,
Singing alone,
Combing her hair
Under the sea,
In a golden curl
With a comb of pearl,
On a throne ?

I would be a mermaid fair ;
I would sing to myself the whole of the day ;
With a comb of pearl I would comb my hair ;
And still as I comb'd I would sing and say,
" Who is it loves me ? who loves me not ? "
I would comb my hair till my ringlets would fall

Low adown, low adown,
From under my starry sea-bud crown

Low adown, and around,
And I should look like a fountain of gold

Springing alone
With a shrill inner sound,

Over the throne
In the midst of the hall ;
Till that great sea-snake under the sea
From his coiled sleeps in the central deeps
Would slowly trail himself sevenfold
Round the hall where I sate, and look in at the gate
With his large calm eyes for the love of me.
And all the mermen under the sea
Would feel their immortality
Die in their hearts for the love of me.

" And I should look like a fountain of gold.


But at night I would wander away, away,

I would fling on each side my low-flowing locks

And lightly vault from the throne and play
With the mermen in and out of the rocks ;

We would run to and fro, and hide and seek,
On the broad sea-wolds in the crimson shells,
Whose silvery spikes are nighest the sea.

But if any came near I would call, and shriek,

And adown the steep like a wave I would leap

From the diamond-ledges that jut from the dells ;

For I would not be kiss'd by all who would list,

Of the bold merry mermen under the sea ;

They would sue me, and woo me, and flatter me,

In the purple twilights under the sea ;

But the king of them all would carry me,

Woo me, and win me, and marry me,

In the branching jaspers under the sea ;

Then all the dry pied things that be

In the hueless mosses under the sea

Would curl round my silver feet silently,

All looking up for the love of me.

And if I should carol aloud, from aloft

All things that are forked, and horned, and soft

Would lean out from the hollow sphere of the sea,

All looking down for the love of me.


The Merman

Who would be
A merman bold,
Sitting alone,
Singing alone,
Under the sea,
With a crown of gold,
On a throne ?


I would be a merman bold ;
I would sit and sing the whole of the day ;
I would fill the sea-halls with a voice of power ;
But at night I would roam abroad and play
With the mermaids in and out of the rocks,
Dressing their hair with the white sea-flower ;
And holding them back by their flowing locks
I would kiss them often under the sea,
And kiss them again till they kiss'd me

Laughingly, laughingly ;
And then we would wander away, away
To the pale-green sea-groves straight and high,

Chasing each other merrily.

There would be neither moon nor star ;

But the wave would make music above us afar

Low thunder and light in the magic night

Neither moon nor star.
We would call aloud in the dreamy dells,
Call to each other and whoop and cry

All night, merrily, merrily ;

They would pelt me with starry spangles and shells,
Laughing and clapping their hands between,

All night, merrily, merrily ;
But I would throw to them back in mine
Turkis and agate and almondine :
Then leaping out upon them unseen
I would kiss them often under the sea,
And lass them again till they kiss'd me

Laughingly, laughingly.
Oh ! what a happy life were mine
Under the hollow-hung ocean green !
Soft are the moss-beds under the sea ;
We would live merrily, merrily.




The Sea-fairies

SLOW sail'd the weary mariners and saw,
Betwixt the green brink and the running foam,
Sweet faces, rounded arms, and bosoms prest
To little harps of gold ; and while they mused,
Whispering to each other half in fear,
Shrill music reach'd them on the middle sea.

Whither away, whither away, whither away ? fly no more,
Whither away from the high green field, and the happy blossom-
ing shore ?

Day and night to the billow the fountain calls :
Down shower the gambolling waterfalls
From wandering over the lea ;
Out of the live-green heart of the dells
They freshen the silvery-crimson shells,
And thick with white bells the clover-hill swells
High over the full-toned sea :
O hither, come hither and furl your sails,
Come hither to me and to me :
Hither, come hither and frolic and play ;


Here it is only the mew that wails ;
We will sing to you all the day ;
Mariner, mariner, furl your sails,
For here are the blissful downs and dales,
And merrily, merrily carol the gales,
And the spangle dances in bight and bay,
And the rainbow forms and flies on the land
Over the islands free ;

And the rainbow lives in the curve of the sand ;
Hither, come hither and see ;
And the rainbow hangs on the poising wave,
And sweet is the colour of cove and cave,
And sweet shall your welcome be ;
O hither, come hither, and be our lords,
For merry brides are we :

We will kiss sweet kisses, and speak sweet words :
O listen, listen, your eyes shall glisten
With pleasure and love and jubilee ;
O listen, listen, your eyes shall glisten
When the sharp clear twang of the golden chords
Runs up the ridged sea.
Who can light on as happy a shore
All the world o'er, all the world o'er ?

Whither away ? listen and stay : mariner, mariner, fly no more.


The Moon Child

A LITTLE lonely child am I

That have not any soul :
God made me but a homeless wave,

Without a goal.

A seal my father was, a seal

That once was man :
My mother loved him, though he was

'Neath mortal ban.


He took a wave and drowned her,

She took a wave and lifted him :
And I was born where shadows are,

F the sea-depths dim.

All through the sunny blue-sweet hours

I swim and glide in waters green :
Never by day the mournful shores

By me are seen.

But when the gloom is on the wave

A shell unto the shore I bring ;
And then upon the rocks I sit

And plaintive sing.

O what is this wild song I sing,

With meanings strange and dim ?
No soul am I, a wave am I,

And sing the Moon-child's hymn.


Mider's Song

How beautiful they are,
The lordly ones
Who dwell in the hills,
In the hollow hills.

They have faces like flowers
And their breath is wind
That blows over grass
Filled with dewy clover.

Their limbs are more white
Than shafts of moonshine :
They are more fleet
Than the March wind.


They laugh and are glad
And are terrible :
When their lances shake
Every green reed quivers.

How beautiful they are,
How beautiful,
The lordly ones
In the hollow hills.

I would go back

To the Country of the Young,

And see again

The lances of the Shee,

As they keep their hosting
With laughing cries
In pale places
Under the moon.


Fairy Lullaby

(Old Irish}

O WOMAN, washing by the river !

Hushaby, babe not mine !
My woeful wail wilt pity never ?

Hushaby, babe not mine.
A year this day I was snatched for ever,

Hushaby, babe not mine.

To the green hill-fort where thorn-trees shiver,
Hushaby, babe not mine.

Shoheen, shoheen, shoheen, shoheen,

Sho-hu-lo, sho-hu-lo,
Shoheen, shoheen, shoheen, shoheen,
'Tis not thou, my baby, O.


'Tis there the fairy court is holden,

Hushaby, babe not mine.
And there is new ale, there is olden,

Hushaby, babe not mine.
And there are combs of honey golden,

Hushaby, babe not mine,
And there lie men in bonds enfolden,

Hushaby, babe not mine.
Shoheen, etc.

How many there, of fairest faces !

Hushaby, babe not mine.
Bright-eyed boys with manly graces !

Hushaby, babe not mine.
Gold-haired girls with curling tresses !

Hushaby, babe not mine.
There, mothers nurse with sad caresses,

Hushaby, babe not mine.
Shoheen, etc.

Ah, bid my husband haste to-morrow,

Hushaby, babe not mine.
A waxen taper he shall borrow,

Hushaby, babe not mine.
A black knife bring to cross my sorrow,

Hushaby, babe not mine.
And stab their first steed coming thoro',

Hushaby, babe not mine.
Shoheen, etc.

Say, pluck the herb where gate-thorns quiver.

Hushaby, babe not mine.
And wish a wish that God deliver,

Hushaby, babe not mine.
If he come not then he need come never,

Hushaby, babe not mine.
For they'll make me Fairy Queen for ever !

Hushaby, babe not mine.
Shoheen, etc.



The Fairies' Lullaby

(Old Irish)

MY mirth and merriment, soft and sweet art thou,

Child of the race of Conn art thou ;
My mirth and merriment, soft and sweet art thou,

Of the race of Coll and Conn art thou.

My smooth green rush, my laughter sweet,

My little plant in the rocky cleft,
Were it not for the spell on thy tiny feet

Thou wouldst not here be left,

Not thou.

Of the race of Coll and Conn art thou,
My laughter sweet and low art thou ;

As you crow on my knee,
I would lift you with me,

Were it not for the mark that is on your feet
I would lift you away, and away with me.

Trans. E. HALL.

A Faery Song

WE who are old, old and gay,

O so old !

Thousands of years, thousands of years,

If all were told :

Give to these children, new from the world,
Silence and love ;

And the long dew-dropping hours of the night,
And the stars above :


Give to these children, new from the world,
Rest far from men.
Is anything better, anything better ?
Tell us it then :

Us who are old, old and gay,

O so old !

Thousands of years, thousands of years,

If all were told.


Fairyland and Fairy Lore


I HEARD a horseman

Ride over the hill ;
The moon shone clear,

The night was still ;
His helm was silver,

And pale was he ;
And the horse he rode

Was of ivory.


Ariel. You fools ! I and my fellows

Are ministers of fate : the elements

Of whom your swords are temper'd, may as well

Wound the loud winds, or with be-mock'd-at stabs

Kill the still-closing waters, as diminish

One dowle that's in my plume ; my fellow-ministers

Are like invulnerable.


The Fairies' Farewell

FAREWELL rewards and fairies !

Good housewives now may say ;
For now foul sluts in dairies

Do fare as well as they :

And though they sweep their hearths no less

Than maids were wont to do,
Yet who of late for cleanliness

Finds sixpence in her shoe ?



At morning and at evening both

You merry were and glad ;
So little care of sleep and sloth

These pretty ladies had.
When Tom came home from labour

Or Ciss to milking rose,
Then merrily went their tabor,

And nimbly went their toes.

Witness those rings and roundelays

Of theirs, which yet remain,
Were footed in queen Mary's days

On many a grassy plain.
But since of late Elizabeth

And later James came in ;
They never danced on any heath,

As when the time hath been.

A tell-tale in their company

They never could endure ;
And whoso kept not secretly

Their mirth, waspunished sure ;
It was a just and Christian deed

To pinch such black and blue :
O how the commonwealth doth need

Such justices as you !


Nimphidia the Court of Fairy

The Fairy Palace

THIS palace standeth in the air,
By necromancy placed there,
That it no tempest needs to fear

Which way soe'er it blow it ;
And somewhat southward toward the noon,
Whence lies a way up to the moon,
And thence the fairies can as soon

Pass to the earth below it.


The walls of spiders' legs are made,
Well mortised and finely laid ;
He was the master of his trade

It curiously that builded :
The windows of the eyes of cats,

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