The Fairies (Poem by William Allingham)

FairiesUp the airy mountain

Down the rushy glen,
We dare n’t go a-hunting,
For fear of little men;
Wee folk, good folk,
Trooping all together;
Green jacket, red cap,
And white owl’s feather.
Down along the rocky shore
Some make their home,
They live on crispy pancakes
Of yellow tide-foam;
Some in the reeds

Of the black mountain-lake,
With frogs for their watch-dogs,
All night awake.
High on the hill-top
The old King sits;
He is now so old and gray
He’s nigh lost his wits.
With a bridge of white mist
Columbkill he crosses,
On his stately journeys
From Slieveleague to Rosses;
Or going up with music,
On cold starry nights,
To sup with the Queen,
Of the gay Northern Lights.

They stole little Bridget
For seven years long;
When she came down again
Her friends were all gone.
They took her lightly back
Between the night and morrow;
They thought she was fast asleep,
But she was dead with sorrow.
They have kept her ever since
Deep within the lake,
On a bed of flag leaves,
Watching till she wake.

By the craggy hill-side,
Through the mosses bare,
They have planted thorn trees
For pleasure here and there.
Is any man so daring
As dig them up in spite?
He shall find the thornies set
In his bed at night.

Up the airy mountain
Down the rushy glen,
We dare n’t go a-hunting,
For fear of little men;
Wee folk, good folk,
Trooping all together;
Green jacket, red cap,
And white owl’s feather.


William_AllinghamWilliam Allingham

19 March 1824 – 18 November 1889

He was born in Ballyshannon, County Donegal, Ireland and was the son of the manager of a local bank who was of English descent. He obtained a post in the custom-house of his native town and held several similar posts in Ireland and England until 1870, when he had retired from the service, and became sub-editor of Fraser’s Magazine, which he edited from 1874 to 1879, in succession to James Froude. He had published a volume of Poems in 1850, followed by Day and Night Songs, a volume containing many charming lyrics, in 1855. Allingham was on terms of close friendship with DG Rossetti, who contributed to the illustration of the Songs. His Letters to Allingham (1854-1870) were edited by Dr. Birkbeck Hill in 1897. Lawrence Bloomfield in Ireland, his most ambitious, though not his most successful work, a narrative poem illustrative of Irish social questions, appeared in 1864. He also edited The Ballad Book for the Golden Treasury series in 1864. In 1874 Allingham married Helen Paterson, known under her married name as a water-colour painter. He died at Hampstead in 1889, and his ashes are interred at St. Anne’s in his native Ballyshannon. Though working on an unostentatious scale, Allingham produced much excellent lyrical and descriptive poetry, and the best of his pieces are thoroughly national in spirit and local colouring. His verse is clear, fresh, and graceful. Other works are Fifty Modern Poems (1865), Songs, Poems, and Ballads (1877), Evil May Day (1883), Blackberries (1884), Irish Songs and Poems (1887), and Varieties in Prose (1893), and, arguably his most famous work, “The Faeries” (see below). William Allingham: a Diary (1907), edited by Mrs Allingham and D Radford, contains many interesting reminiscences of Tennyson, Carlyle and other famous contemporaries. The Ulster poet John Hewitt felt Allingham’s influence keenly, and his attempts to revive his reputation included editing and writing an introduction to The Poems of William Allingham (Oxford University Press/ Dolmen Press, 1967).

Advertisements

Leave a Reply

Please log in using one of these methods to post your comment:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s