Faery Poetry

Doubt no more that Oberon—
Never doubt that Pan
Lived, and played a reed, and ran
After nymphs in a dark forest,
In the merry, credulous days,—
Lived, and led a fairy band
Over the indulgent land!
                   - Edna St. Vincent Millay

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            The Word

"O Earth!  Thou hast not any wind that blows
        Which is not music; every weed of thine
        Pressed rightly flows in aromatic wine;
 Any humble hedge-row flower that grows,
 And every little brown bird that doth sing,
        Hath something greater than itself, and bears
 A living word to every living thing,
        Albeit holds the message unawares.
 All shapes and sounds have something which is not
        Of them:  a spirit broods amid the grass;
 Vague outlines of the Everlasting Thought
        Lie in the melting shadows as they pass;
 The touch of an eternal presence thrills
        The fringes of the sunsets and the hills.

                               - Richard Realf,
                                    circa 1870

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     The Stolen Child
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 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.

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 to 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
Singing 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.
            - W. B. Yeats
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       The Sidhe 
I have sought you:
Over the tide levelled shore
       on the West Wind's wide corridor
       adorned with wave borne mosses
       and the bleached bones of the nautilus;
Among the bending reeds
       of the dark moor, brooding
       under the crow's silvered wings;
In the cool wood, deep sunken
       beneath the amber dropping boughs,
       wide with the calling birds.
I seek for you in the harrowed fields,
       in the brake shaded brooks of unfathomable scent,
       in the asphalt humbled ecologies
       of vacant lot tangles, springing lush,
       and along the pounded, smoky roads.
And always I may find you
       wherever I have pushed
       open my stone green heart.
              - T. Powell
                 Copyright 2012
* Sidhe - the faeries [pronounced "shee" as in "beahn-sidhe" (banshee)]

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i thank you God for this most amazing day, 
for the leaping greenly spirits of trees, 
and for the blue dream of sky 
and for everything which is natural, which is infinite, which is yes.

- e.e. cummings

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    A Call of the Sidhe 

Tarry thou yet, late lingerer in the twilight's glory
Gay are the hills with song: earth's faery children leave
More dim abodes to roam the primrose-hearted eve,
Opening their glimmering lips to breathe some wondrous story.
Hush, not a whisper! Let your heart alone go dreaming.
Dream unto dream may pass: deep in the heart alone
Murmurs the Mighty One his solemn undertone.
Canst thou not see adown the silver cloudland streaming
Rivers of rainbow light, dewdrop on dewdrop falling,
Starfire of silver flames, lighting the dark beneath?
And what enraptured hosts burn on the dusky heath!
Come thou away with them, for Heaven to Earth is calling.
These are Earth's voice--her answer--spirits thronging.
Come to the Land of Youth: the trees grown heavy there
Drop on the purple wave the ruby fruit they bear.
Drink: the immortal waters quench the spirit's longing.
Art thou not now, bright one, all sorrow past, in elation,
Filled with wild joy, grown brother-hearted with the vast,
Whither thy spirit wending flits the dim stars past
Unto the Light of Lights in burning adoration.

  - A. E. (George Russell)
 *Sidhe - those of the hill; the faeries
 *Tarry - to linger or wait around

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by Jane Kiskaddon

    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 then:
Us who are old, old and gay,
O so old!
Thousands of years, thousands of years,
If all were told.
    - W. B. Yeats
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from God's Grandeur
And for all this, nature is never spent;
  There lives the dearest freshness deep down in things;
And though the last lights off the black West went
  Oh, morning, at the brown brink eastward, springs -
Because the Holy Ghost over the bent
  World broods with warm breast and with ah! bright wings.
     - Gerald Manley Hopkins
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Hunched like a faun, he hooed
From grove of moon-glint and fen-frost
Until all owls in the twigged forest
Flapped black to look and brood
On the call this man made.

No sound but a drunken coot
Lurching home along river bank.
Stars hung water-sunk, so a rank
Of double star-eyes lit
Boughs where those owls sat.

An arena of yellow eyes
Watched the changing shape he cut,
Saw hoof harden from foot, saw sprout
Goat horns.  Marked how god rose
And galloped woodward in that guise.

  - Sylvia Plath, 1960

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     Vespers in Napa County  
With dusk weighing 
       on brawn oaks who gently lean,
       the humble, stoic roadside weeds, 
       the vast vineyards bound wide
                 where burnished shadows
                 scatter the fragrant gold; 
On these hills of summer blonde
                 - shores against the deep
                 sky with its pearl moon; 
Down the highway bed still warm
                 from the day now flown; 
I see the spirit of each waiting stone, 
       each atom, dangling leaf and star
                 is a boundless love -
                                    is wild God;
And the distant city lights burning to find
                its soul,
                which never was lost.
              - T. Powell
              Copyright 2012
       *Vespers - the time of evening prayer

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    Song of the Wandering Aengus
I walked out to the hazel wood,
Because a fire was in my head,
And I cut and peeled a hazel wand,
And hooked a berry on a thread;
And when white moths were on the wing,
And moth-like stars were flickering out,
I dropped the berry in a stream
And caught a little silver trout.
And when I had laid it on the floor
And gone to blow the fire aflame,
Something rustled on the ground,
And someone called me by my name:
It had become a glimmering girl
With apple blossom in her hair
Who called me by my name and ran
And faded through the brightening air.
Though I am old with wandering
Through hollow lands and through hilly lands,
I will find out where she has gone,
And kiss her cheek and take her hand;
And walk among long dappled grass,
And pluck till time and times are done,
The silver apples of the moon,
The golden apples of the sun.
     - W. B. Yeats
  *Aengus - the Irish god of love and inspiration
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from A Midsummer Night's Dream
  But we are spirits of another sort:
  I with the morning's love have oft made sport,
  And, like a forester, the groves may tread,
  Even till the eastern gate, all fiery-red,
  Opening on Neptune with fair blessed beams,
  Turns into yellow gold his salt green streams. 

      - Wm Shakespeare
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Beyond, beyond the mountain line,
The grey-stone and the boulder,
Beyond the growth of dark green pine,
That crowns its western shoulder,
There lies that fairy-land of mine,
Unseen of a beholder.
Its fruits are all like rubies rare;
Its streams are clear as glasses;
There golden castles hang in air,
And purple grapes in masses,
And noble knights and ladies fair
Come riding down the passes.
Ah me! they say if I could stand
Upon those mountain ledges,
I should see on either hand
Plain fields and dusty hedges;
And yet I know my fairy-land
Lies somewhere o'er their edges.
  - Cecil Frances Alexander

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Poetry reveals that there is no empty space.

When your truth forsakes its shyness,
When your fears surrender to your strengths,

You will begin to experience

That all existence
Is a teeming sea of infinite life.

In a handful of ocean water
You could not count all the finely tuned

Who are acting stoned
For very intelligent and sane reasons

And of course are becoming extremely sweet
And wild.

In a handful of the sky and earth,
In a handful of God,

We cannot count

All the ecstatic lovers who are dancing there
Behind the mysterious veil.

True art reveals there is no void
Or darkness.

There is no loneliness to the clear-eyed mystic
In this luminous, brimming
Playful world.

 - Hafiz

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from the Tenth Pythian Ode
Never on foot or ship
could you find the marvelous road
to the feast of the Hyperboreans.
Never the Muse is absent from their ways:
lyres clash, and the flutes cry,
and everywhere maiden choruses whirling.
They bind their hair
in golden laurel
and take their holiday.
Neither disease nor bitter old age
is mixed in their sacred blood;
far from labor and battle they live;
they escape Nemesis, the over just.
Danae's son came that day,
breathing strength in his heart,
and Athene led him to mix with those blessed men.
 - Pindar
     498 BC
(transl. Richard Lattimore)

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"Lady with a Unicorn"
 - Raphael


What I am I must not show 
What I am thou couldst now know 
Something betwixt heaven and hell 
Something that neither stood nor fell 
Something that through thy wit or will
May work thee good, may work thee ill.

Neither substance quite, nor shadow,
Haunting lonely moor and meadow,
Dancing by the haunted spring,
Riding on the whirlwind's wing;
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 brave!

 - Sir Walter Scott
   early 19thc.

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      Locusts and Wild Honey
This range of the lone quail
               now is blessed;
Her clear notes crying
                 in the wilderness
Of sunfire
                 on the oaks' soft leaves 
Budding in the shoals of sky 
To dangle in the tides of breeze 
Now swaying,
                 sometimes hovering there,  
Veiling the fluid gold of the bees 
Crusting bark with sugar drip 
Gathered from sweet sage and rye 
By faeries of the rosy air.  
The meadow wells
               with their firelit wings,  
'Round downs of grass,
                 deep anchored trees,  
As cattle roam the sweep of hill 
Crossed by blue locusts,
               starling chased.  
Old Gaea thrives on lavish fare 
And gathers into lucent space 
Out of her rustic soul, these things -  
Her sky vast heart to fill.  
    - T. Powell
    Copyright 2013

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from the Tale of the Wife of Bath:
In th' olde dayes of the Kyng Arthour,
Of which that Britons speken greet honour,
Al was this land fulfild of fayerye.
The elf-queene, with hir joly compaignye,
Daunced ful ofte in many a grene mede.
This was the olde opinion, as I rede;
I speke of manye hundred yeres ago.
But now kan no man se none elves mo,
For now the grete charitee and prayeres
Of lymytours and othere hooly freres,
That serchen every lond and every streem,
As thikke as motes in the sonne-beem,
Blessynge halles, chambres, kichenes, boures,
Citees, burghes, castels, hye toures,
Thropes, bernes, shipnes, dayeryes --
This maketh that ther ben no fayeryes.
For ther as wont to walken was an elf
Ther walketh now the lymytour hymself
In undermeles and in morwenynges,
And seyth his matyns and his hooly thynges
As he gooth in his lymytacioun.
     - Geoffrey Chaucer
     (Late 14thc.)
[Mede - meadow; Mo - more; Lymytours - alms collectors; Boures - bowers, bedrooms; Burghes - towns; Thropes - villages; Bernes - barns; Shipnes - stables; 
Wont - customary, usual; Undermeles - late mornings; Morwenynges - early mornings; Matins - morning prayers; Lymytacioun - assigned district]
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from Paradise Lost

              ... or fairy elves,
Whose midnight revels by a forest side
Or fountain some belated peasant sees,
Or dreams he sees, while over head the moon
Sits arbitress, and nearer to the earth
Wheels her pale course, they on their mirth and dance
Intent, with jocund music charm his ear;
At once with joy and fear his heart rebounds.

     - John Milton

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He who binds to himself a joy
Doth the winged life destroy;
But he who kisses the joy as it flies,
Lives in Eternity's sunrise.
    - William Blake
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from Wonder

       How like an angel came I down!
               How bright are all things here!
When first among his works I did appear
       O how their glory me did crown!
The world resembled his eternity,
               In which my soul did walk;
       And ev’ry thing that I did see
               Did with me talk.

       The skies in their magnificence,
               The lively, lovely air;
Oh how divine, how soft, how sweet, how fair!
       The stars did entertain my sense,
And all the works of God, so bright and pure,
               So rich and great did seem,
       As if they ever must endure
               In my esteem.

       A native health and innocence
               Within my bones did grow,
And while my God did all his glories show,
       I felt a vigour in my sense
That was all spirit. I within did flow
               With seas of life, like wine;
       I nothing in the world did know
               But ’twas divine.

     - Thomas Traherne, 
             ca 1665

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The fields of wheat are waving
In the pearly blue
            sky, as vast
            as Nirvana 
The trees are lit 
With stars, chorused    
            like crickets in white beams    
            of Moon  
Mountains, wooded rise
From a green sea, clear    
             and bright as her white sands    
We are here 
In freedom flocked    
            like winged larks    
            of light
    - T. Powell
Copyright 2013

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      The Wind Among the Reeds

Mavrone, Mavrone, the wind among the reeds,
  It calls and cries, and will not let me be;
And all its cry is of forgotten deeds.
  When men were loved of all the Daoine-Sidhe.

O Shee that have forgotten how to love,
  And Shee that have forgotten how to hate,
Asleep 'neath quicken boughs that no winds move,
  Come back to us ere yet it be too late.

Pipe to us once again, lest we forget
  What piping means, till all the Silver Spears
Be wild with gusty music, such as met
  Carolan once, amid the dusty years.

Dance in your rings again: the yellow weeds
  You used to ride so far, mount as of old -
Play hide-and-seek with wind among the reeds,
  And pay your scores again with fairy gold.

      - Nora Hopper
          late 19thc.
* Mavrone - "my grief" (Irish)
* Daoine-Sidhe - People of the Hill; the fairy folk who stayed in Ireland after the coming of the conquering Celts
* Carolan - Turlough O'Carolan, the blind harper of the late 17th - early 18thc. who composed among many other tunes, The Silver Spear

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     from Wood Ways

Thus did the laughing king, the magic-maker,
Draw me into the wind-glittering wood
By an enchantment of blown boughs and lights,
And faint and myriad flickerings within
The many-pillared palace of leaves.  The air,
A flying girl, flame-limbed, before me runs
Sprinkling the dark with jewels.  Eyes are dizzy
With sudden color.  O, the hyacinths!
I fall on knees watching the laughing king
Hide stars in wild blossoms.  On moss I lie,
My eyes are shuttered but the earth is airy,
Dense to the body, to the spirit most clear.
O, so it was in the golden age.  Men lived
In the bright fire, in air, in earth.  They knew
Only the being of the laughing king
And had no name for themselves.  A night
Of many million years breaks now to dawn.

     - A.E.

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Ode to Autumn

Endeavoring to fill the unremarkable days of eternal sameness
Where sunsets melt like honey into twilight
Sticking together the pages in that dusty book of hours
Our flaxen haired goddess of autumn
Relinquished her resolve to plow the fields
And fell to reveling in this her bountiful harvest
Of daydreams, barley and ripened apples
Having hewn through those strong and ancient roots
Tethering her natural form to this great but mortal sphere
She veered far from her fecund garden; unencumbered
And followed after a painted lady fluttering through the stranger’s gate
Which marked the entryway to an unattended labyrinth
Made wild from neglect and overgrowth
Creeping vines once covering familiar walkways
Leading nowhere; leading everywhere
A thicket, a bramble, a wandering hare
Lured her to a hollow in the hedgerow’s passageways
Where dappled impressions of fading sunlight begged,
“Make haste into the wood.”
She hurried to comply without a second thought
But hours passed and time forgot to call her home
The starry skies seduced her heart,
“Take your leave and rest a while.”
And so she made her bed beneath the yellow Harvest Moon
And fell into the deepest sleep
Her golden locks descended down into the soil’s underground
They grew co-mingling with the radicals
Who drank her dreams up in the night
And set the woodland floor alight as ale would a thirsty soul
This warming brew began a fire
That when then the dawn had broken through
Revealed one young sapling grown up into prime
A mighty oak with leaves of green
Now glimmering vermilion with gilded edges
Floating down against the blueness of the sky
At once proclaiming the arrival of fall
As they flew gently to the ground

 -  Carolyn Johnson
@Copyright 2019 by Carolyn Johnson All Rights Reserved.

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    Fay Song

My life is a dream - a dream
In the moon's cool beam,
Some day I shall wake and desire
A touch of the infinite fire.
But now 'tis enough that I be
In the light of the sea;
Enough that I climb with the cloud
When the winds of the morning are loud;
Enough that I fade with the stars
When the door of the East unbars.

    - Edwin Markham

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