Poetry Explorer- Classic Contemporary Poetry, THE FAIRIES, by GEORGE DARLEY



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THE FAIRIES, by             Poet's Biography
First Line: Suffice to say, that smoother glade
Last Line: Wild as the rings they trace along.
Subject(s): Fairies; Elves


SUFFICE to say, that smoother glade,
Kept greener by a deeper shade,
Never by antler'd form was trod;
Never was strown by that white crowd
Which nips with pettish haste the grass;
Never was lain upon by lass
In harvest time, when Love is tipsy,
And steals to coverts like a gipsy,
There to unmask his ruby face
In unreproved luxuriousness.
'Tis true, in brief, of this sweet place,
What the tann'd moon-bearer did feign
Of one rich spot in his own Spain:
The part just o'er it in the skies
Is the true seat of Paradise.
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.
Oh, shut the eye and ope the ear!
Do you not hear, or think you hear,
A wide hush o'er the woodland pass
Like distant waving fields of grass? --
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;
Now brave, as when in Flora's bower
Gay Zephyr blows a trumpet-flower;
Now thrilling fine, and sharp, and clear,
Like Dian's moonbeam dulcimer;
But mix'd with whoops, and infant laughter,
Shouts following one another after,
As on a hearty holyday
When youth is flush and full of May;
Small shouts, indeed, as wild bees knew
Both how to hum, and holloa 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-mouth'd captains, and ensigns tall,
Grenadiers, lightbobs, inch-people all,
They come! they come! with martial blore
Clearing a terrible path before;
Ruffle the high-peak'd flags i' the wind,
Mourn the long-answering trumpets behind,
Telling how deep the close files are --
Make way for the stalwarth sons of war!
Hurrah! the bluff-cheek'd 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, emboss'd 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,
Swoops round the staff in varying form,
Flouts the soft breeze, but courts the storm.
Hard on the prancing heel 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 parch'd 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 ev'n 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-back'd, 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,
Wild 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,
'T would wake the very fairy dead!
Disparted now, half to each side,
Athwart the curled moss they glide,
Then wheel and front, to edge the scene,
Leaving a spacious glade between;
With small round eyes that twinkle bright
As moon-tears on the grass of night,
They stand spectorial, anxious all,
Like guests ranged down a dancing hall,
Some graceful pair, or more to see
Winding along in melody.
Nor pine their little orbs in vain,
For borne in with an oaten strain
Three pretty Graces, arm-entwined,
Reel in the light curls of the wind;
Their flimsy pinions sprouted high
Lift them half-dancing as they fly;
Like a bright wheel spun on its side
The rapt three round their centre slide,
And as their circling has no end
Voice into sister voice they blend,
Weaving a labyrinthian song
Wild as the rings they trace along.





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