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Poems

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The Seven Ages of Elf-hood
Rachel Field

When an Elf is as old as a year and a minute
He can wear a cap with a feather in it.

By the time that he is two times two
He has a buckle for either shoe.

At twenty he is fine as a fiddle,
With a brown belt to go round his middle.

When he’s lived for fifty years or so
His coat may have buttons all in a row.

If past threescore and ten he’s grown
Two pockets he has for his very own.

At eighty-two or three year old
They bulge and jingle with bits of gold

But when he’s a hundred and a day
He gets a little pipe to play.

The Fairy Lover
Moireen Fox

It is by yonder thorn that I saw the fairy host
(O low night wind, O wind of the west!)
My love rode by, there was gold upon his brow,
And since that day I can neither eat nor rest.

I dare not pray lest I should forget his face
(O black north wind blowing cold beneath the sky!)
His face and his eyes shine between me and the sun:
If I may not be with him I would rather die.

They tell me I am cursed and I will lose my soul,
(O red wind shrieking o’re the thorn-grown dun!)
But he is my love and I go to him to-night,
Who rides when the thorn glistens white beneath the moon.

He will call my name and lift me to his breast,
(Blow soft O wind ‘neath the stars of the south!)
I care not for heaven and I fear not hell
If I have but the kisses of his proud red mouth.

The Fairy Man
Mary Gilmore

It was, it was a fairy man,
Who came to town to-day;
“I’ll make a cake for sixpence
If you will pay, will pay.”

I paid him with a sixpence,
And with a penny too;
He made a cake of rainbows,
And baked it in the dew.

The stars he caught for raisins,
The sun for candied peel
The moon he broke for spices
And ground it on a wheel.

He stirred the cake with sunbeams,
And mixed it faithfully
With all the happy wishings
That come to you and me.

He iced it with a moonbeam,
He patterned it with play,
And sprinkled it with star dust
From off the Milky Way.

I’d Love To Be A Fairy’s Child
Robert Graves

Children born of fairy stock
Never need for shirt or frock,
Never want for food or fire,
Always get their hearts desire:
Jingle pockets full of gold,
Marry when they’re seven years old
Every fairy child may keep
Two ponies and ten sheep;
All have houses, each his own,
Built of brick or granite stone;
They live on cherries, they run wild-
I’d love to be a Fairy’s child.

Gofraidh Fion O Dalaigh
Irish Bard 1385

Harp of Cnoc I’Chosgair, you who bring sleep
to eyes long sleepless;
sweet subtle, plangent, glad, cooling grave.
Excellent instrument with smooth gentle curve,
trilling under red fingers,
musician that has charmed us,
red, lion-like of full melody.
You who lure the bird from the flock,
you who refresh the mind,
brown spotted one of sweet words,
ardent, wondrous, passionate.
You who heal every wounded warrior,
joy and allurement to women,
familiar guide over the dark blue water,
mystic sweet sounding music.
You who silence every instrument of music,
yourself a sweet plaintive instrument,
dweller among the Race of Conn,
instrument yellow-brown and firm.
The one darling of sages,
restless, smooth, sweet of tune,
crimson star above the Fairy Hills,
breast jewel of High Kings.
Sweet tender flowers, brown harp of Diarmaid,
shape not unloved by hosts, voice of cuckoos in May!
I have not heard music ever such as your frame makes
since the time of the Fairy People,
fair brown many coloured bough,
gentle, powerful, glorious.
Sound of the calm wave on the beach,
pure shadowing tree of pure music,
carousals are drunk in your company,
voice of the swan over shining streams.
Cry of the Fairy Women from the Fairy Hill of Ler,
no melody can match you,
every house is sweet stringed through your guidance,
you the pinnacle of harp music.

The Leprechaun
Robert Dwyer Joyce

In a shady nook one moonlit night,
A leprechaun I spied
In scarlet coat and cap of green,
A cruiskeen by his side.
Twas tick, tack, tick, his hammer went,
Upon a weeny shoe,
And I laughed to think of a purse of gold,
But the fairy was laughing too.

With tiptoe step and beating heart,
Quite softly I drew nigh.
There was mischief in his merry face,
A twinkle in his eye;
He hammered and sang with tiny voice,
And sipped the mountian dew;
Oh! I laughed to think he was caught at last,
But the fairy was laughing too.

As quick as thought I grasped the elf,
“You’re fairy purse,” I cried,
“My purse?” he said, “tis in her hand,
That lady by your side.”
I turned to look, the elf was off,
And what was I to do?
Oh! I laughed to think what a fool I’d been,
And, the fairy was laughing too.

Troll Trick
B. J. Lee

With many a scowl
And many a frown,
A troll pushed
Stones and boulders down.

The crashing sound
Made town folks wonder:
Is it a troll
Or is it thunder?

But hill folks knew.
When boulders roll,
It’s always the trick
Of a terrible troll.

The Changeling
Charlotte Mew

Toll no bell for me, dear Father dear Mother,
Waste no sighs;
There are my sisters, there is my little brother
Who plays in the place called Paradise,
Your children all, your children for ever;
But I, so wild,
Your disgrace, with the queer brown face, was never,
Never, I know, but half your child!

In the garden at play, all day, last summer,
Far and away I heard
The sweet “tweet-tweet” of a strange new-comer,
The dearest, clearest call of a bird.
It lived down there in the deep green hollow,
My own old home, and the fairies say
The word of a bird is a thing to follow,
So I was away a night and a day.

One evening, too, by the nursery fire,
We snuggled close and sat roudn so still,
When suddenly as the wind blew higher,
Something scratched on the window-sill,
A pinched brown face peered in–I shivered;
No one listened or seemed to see;
The arms of it waved and the wings of it quivered,
Whoo–I knew it had come for me!
Some are as bad as bad can be!
All night long they danced in the rain,
Round and round in a dripping chain,
Threw their caps at the window-pane,
Tried to make me scream and shout
And fling the bedclothes all about:
I meant to stay in bed that night,
And if only you had left a light
They would never have got me out!

Sometimes I wouldn’t speak, you see,
Or answer when you spoke to me,
Because in the long, still dusks of Spring
You can hear the whole world whispering;
The shy green grasses making love,
The feathers grow on the dear grey dove,
The tiny heart of the redstart beat,
The patter of the squirrel’s feet,
The pebbles pushing in the silver streams,
The rushes talking in their dreams,
The swish-swish of the bat’s black wings,
The wild-wood bluebell’s sweet ting-tings,
Humming and hammering at your ear,
Everything there is to hear
In the heart of hidden things.
But not in the midst of the nursery riot,
That’s why I wanted to be quiet,
Couldn’t do my sums, or sing,
Or settle down to anything.
And when, for that, I was sent upstairs
I did kneel down to say my prayers;
But the King who sits on your high church steeple
Has nothing to do with us fairy people!

‘Times I pleased you, dear Father, dear Mother,
Learned all my lessons and liked to play,
And dearly I loved the little pale brother
Whom some other bird must have called away.
Why did they bring me here to make me
Not quite bad and not quite good,
Why, unless They’re wicked, do They want, in spite, to take me
Back to Their wet, wild wood?
Now, every nithing I shall see the windows shining,
The gold lamp’s glow, and the fire’s red gleam,
While the best of us are twining twigs and the rest of us are whining
In the hollow by the stream.
Black and chill are Their nights on the wold;
And They live so long and They feel no pain:
I shall grow up, but never grow old,
I shall always, always be very cold,
I shall never come back again!

Puck’s Song
William Shakespeare

Either I mistake your shape and making quite,
Or else you are that shrewd and knavish sprite
Called Robin Goodfellow. Are not your he
That frights the maidens of the villagery;
Skim milk, and sometimes labor in the quern,
And bootless make the breathless houswife churn;
And sometimes make the drink to bear no barm;
Mislead night wanderers, laughing at their harm?
Those that Hobgoblin call you, and sweet Puck,
You do their work, and they shall have good luck.

How To Tell Goblins From Elves
Monica Shannon

The Goblin has a wider mouth
Than any wondering elf.
The saddest part of this is that
He brings it on himself.
For hanging in a willow clump
In baskets made of sheaves,
You may see the baby goblins
Under coverlets of leaves.

They suck a pink and poldy foot,
as human babies often do,
And then they suck the other one,
Until they are sucking two.
And so it that goblins’ mouths
Keep growing very round.
So you can’t mistake a goblin,
When a goblin you have found.

The Three Wishes
Mark Shapiro

I caught me a Leprechaun,
and you know what that means!
I got me three big wishes,
and I wanted so many things.
I wanted silver and I wanted gold,
and riches beyond my place,
And castles all in clover,
and love and a beautious face.
“So what it be, your wish number one?”
asked the Leprechaun all in green.
“I wish I might have beauty,
the most bewitching ever seen.”
“Done!” said the green little Leprechaun,
all with a wave of his hand.
“And I wish,” I said, “to have riches,
the greatest in this land.”
With a flourish and a flutter they did appear,
great beauty and my gold,
And then I wished for a lover fair,
all that my heart could hold.
Bedazzled I was when I saw him there,
my knight in armored bob.
“Thank you, Leprechaun,” I gushed with glee,
“You’ve done a most splendid job.”
But the Leprechaun stood near me,
seeming unanxious to leave.
“I’m glad you know your mind, lass.
So many waste wishes, you see.”
So enraptured I was with my bounty
that I hardly noticed when
That wee little, green little Leprechaun
began chattering away again.
“Tis a bonnie day, is it not, my lass?
Don’t you wish, lass, it would bid
To stay like this all year long?”
And I replied … I did.
The little Trickster laughed with mirth,
and then my face did fall.
“The rules be, lass, if a fourth wish you make,
then you lose them all!

The Wee Little Hobgoblin
Mark Shapiro

One wee little Hobgoblin
All dressed up in red,
Was spying on a farmhouse
With mischief in his head.
“This place,” said the little Hobgoblin,
“It could be lots of fun.
Everything’s so clean and tidy,
And begging to be undone.”
So the wee little Hobgoblin
He went to work with glee,
He let the cattle out the gate
And set the piglets free.
He spilled some milk in the kitchen,
And overturned the butterchurn.
He yanked the laundry off the line
And caused the soup to burn.
He pinched the baby and scared the cat
And had the mostest fun.
And when his spree was over
He said, “That’s a job well done!”

Unknown
R.L. Stevenson

All the names I know from nurse-
Gardener’s garters, Shephard’s purse
Bachelor’s buttons, Lady’s smock
And the Lady Hollyhock.
Fairy places, Fairy things
Fairy woods where the wild bee wings,
Tiny trees for tiny dames
These must all be fairy names!
Tiny woods below whose boughs
Shady fairies weave a house
Tiny tree-tops, rose or thyme,
Where the braver fairies climb!
Fair are grown-up people’s trees
But the fairest woods of these
Where if I were not so tall
I should live for good an all.

Goblin Feet
J.R.R. Tolkien

I am off down the road
Where the fairy laterns glowed
And the little pretty flitter-mice are flying
A slender band of gray
It runs creepily away
And the hedges and the grasses are a-sighing.
The air is full of wings,
And of blundery beetle-things
That warn you with their whirring and their humming.
O! I hear the tiny horns
Of enchanted leprechauns
And the padded feet of many gnomes a-coming!

O! the lights! O! the gleams! O! the little twikly sounds!
O! the rustle of their noisless little robes!
O! the echo of their feet-of their happy little feet!
O! the swinging lamps in the starlit globes.

I must follow in their train
Down the crooked fairy lane
Where the coney-rabbits long ago have gone,
And where silvery they sing
In a moving moonlit ring
All a twinkle with the jewels they have on.
They are fading round the turn
Where the glowworms 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 colors in the dark!
O! the guazy wings of golden honey-flies!
O! the music of their feet-of ther dancing goblin feet!
O! the magic O! the sorrow when it dies.

Daoine Sidhe
Unknown

Round and round the faery ring
We danced through the fields of rye
and then the sidhe began to sing
I felt as though death were nigh.

Then under the hill we went
Into the land of the Fae
A world sprang up to meet us
The place where the faery play

To the queen they did guide me
A magnificant hall of trees
And thus I bowed lowly to her knees

Well whether twas enchantment
I could not answer ye
I was captured in a trance
By the lowliest of the sidhe

Alas for Midsummer’s Eve
The dance of the Daoine Sidhe
Ceased as the People of Peace
Followed the queen of through the sea

Alone I stand on the field
Leaning on a blackthorn tree
Peering out over the ocean
Smiling upon the blesses sidhe

The Fairy Nurse
Edward Walsh

Sweet babe! a golden cradle holds thee,
And soft the snow-white fleece enfolds thee;
In airy bower I’ll watch thy sleeping,
Where branchy trees to the breeze are sweeping.
Shuheen, sho, lulo lo!

When mothers languish broken-hearted,
When young wives are from husbands parted,
Ah! little think the keeners lonely,
They weep some time-worn fairy only.
Shuheen, sho, lulo lo!

Within our magic halls of brightness,
Trips many a foot of snowy whiteness;
Stolen maidens, queens of fairy–
And kings and chiefs a sluagh-shee airy.
Shuheen, sho, lulo lo!

Rest thee, babe! I love thee dearly,
And as thy mortal mother nearly;
Ours is the swiftest steed and proudest,
That moves where the tramp of the host is loudest.
Shuheen, sho, lulo lo!

Rest thee, babe! for soon thy slumbers
Shall flee at the magic koelshie’s numbers
[note: Ceol-sidhe, fairy music]
In airy bower I’ll watch thy sleeping,
Where branchy trees to the breeze are sweeping.
Shuheen, sho, lulo lo!

A Faery Song
{Sung by the people of Faery over Diarmuid and Grania, in their bridal sleep under a Cromlech.}

William Butler Yeats

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.

Stolen Child
William Butler Yeats

Where dips the rocky highland
Of Sleuth Wood in the lake,
There lies a leafy island
Where flapping herons wake
The drowsy water-rats;
There we’ve hid our faery vats,
Full of berries
And of the reddest stolen cherries.
Come away, O human child!
To the waters and the wild
With a faery, hand in hand,
For the world’s more full of weeping than you can understand.

Where the wave of moonlight glosses
The dim grey sands with light,
Far off by furthest Rosses
We foot it all the night,
Weaving olden dances,
Mingling hands and mingling glances
Till the moon has taken flight;
To and fro we leap
And chase the frothy bubbles,
While the world is full of troubles
And is anxious in its sleep.
Come away, O human child!
To the waters and the wild
With a faery, hand in hand,
For the world’s more full of weeping than you can understand.

Where the wandering water gushes
From the hills above Glen-Car,
In pools among the rushes
That scarce could bathe a star,
We seek for slumbering trout
And whispering in their ears
Give them unquiet dreams;
Leaning softly out
From ferns that drop their tears
Over the young streams
Come away, O human child!
To the waters and the wild
With a faery, hand in hand,
For the world’s more full of weeping than you can understand.

Away with us he’s going,
The solemn eyed:
He’ll hear no more the lowing
Of the calves on the warm hillside
Or the kettle on the hob
Sing peace into his breast,
Or see the brown mice bob
Round and round the oatmeal-chest.
For he comes, the human child!
To the waters and the wild
With a faery, hand in hand,
From a world more full of weeping than he can understand.