Poetry Explorer- Classic Contemporary Poetry, THE ELVES, by CHARLES MARIE RENE LECONTE DE LISLE



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THE ELVES, by             Poet's Biography
First Line: Crowned with marjoram, clover and thyme
Last Line: The dancing elves in the moonlight mime.
Subject(s): Dancing & Dancers; Fairies; Moon; Elves


CROWNED with marjoram, clover and thyme,
The dancing elves in the moonlight mime.

Up the wooded walk of the timorous deer,
Reining his steed, comes the young Chevalier.
The gold of his spurs cleaves into the shade
And, crossing the moonbeams that chequer the glade,
Speeding by sycamore, willow and ash,
Argent the flames on his lovelocks flash.

Crowned with marjoram, clover and thyme,
The dancing elves in the moonlight mime.

They circle and turn where the heather-bells sleep
And light as the foam in the stillness they leap.
"Chevalier! Chevalier! Whither, oh, whither?"
Calls the young Queen, and the echoes cry: "Hither!"
"Daring the warlocks of forest and shadow,
Tarry and dance with us in the green meadow!"

Crowned with marjoram, clover and thyme,
The dancing elves in the moonlight mime.

"Nay, for my lady with eyes soft and clear
Looks for the dawn and her spouse to appear.
Stay not my wayfaring, Elves of the Heath!
Back!" and his sword shimmers out of its sheath.
"Would ye the tryst and the bridal delay?
Already the sun gilds the doors of the day."

Crowned with marjoram, clover and thyme,
The dancing elves in the moonlight mime.

"What if I give thee my magical ring,
Mystical opal and gems of a King?
Yea, and what soon shall thy questing repay
-- My robe spun of beams of the bright Milky Way?"

* * * *

"Lording," she said, "it had paid thee to linger,"
And thrust to his heart her lily-white finger.

Crowned with marjoram, clover and thyme,
The dancing elves in the moonlight mime.

And under the rowel the black steed sped,
Plunging through gloom and the gulleys of dread,
And the Chevalier shuddered as one witch-bespelled,
For spectral and grim a white form he beheld;
Yet never a breath stirred the leaves dun and dry.
"Elf, Demon or Sprite," cried the knight; "Let me by!"

Crowned with marjoram, clover and thyme,
The dancing elves in the moonlight mime.

"Phantom or Fiend, whom the Saints exorcise!
Strong is the lure of my love's tender eyes."
"Sweetheart," she said; "All my terrors outbrave.
The bed for our bridal must now be the grave.
I am no more!" He, with ruddy cheeks whitening,
In anguish fell dead, as if stricken by lightning.

Crowned with marjoram, clover and thyme,
The dancing elves in the moonlight mime.





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