Tuesday, July 27, 2010

The Fair Folk/The Fairies by William Allingham

All the talk about hobbits made me remember an old child-hood favourite  by William Allingham


Up the airy mountain,
Down the rushy glen,
We daren't go a-hunting
For fear of little men;
Wee folk, good folk,
Trooping all together;
Green jacket, red cap,
And grey cock'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 grey
He's nigh lost his wits.
With a bridge of white mist
Columbkille he crosses,
On his stately journeys
From Slieve League 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 that she was fast asleep,
But she was dead with sorrow.
They have kept her ever since
Deep within the lakes,
On a bed of flag-leaves,
Watching till she wakes.

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

Up the airy mountain,
Down the rushy glen,
We daren't go a-hunting
For fear of little men;
Wee folk, good folk,
Trooping all together;
Green jacket, red cap,
And grey cock's feather!



William Alingham, 19 March 1824  (or possibly 1828 general consensus seems to be 1824)- 18 November 1889 . William Alingham was an Irish poet described as clear, fresh and graceful, his work has always been thought of as charming, and although he was never really famous like some of the other poets of the time, his work is still around over a hundred years later, apparently Terry Pratchett's working title for "The Wee Free Men" was "For Fear of Little Men" after the poem, and the opening verse has been used in a number of other works including Charlie and the Chocolate Factory.

Click here to arrive at the Portal for Fairy Tale Poetry, or back at the Tuesday Poem hub:  

A..J. Ponder - author page

2 comments:

  1. It's many, many years since I last heard this poem - thanks for the opportunity to become acquainted with it again!

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  2. Cheers Tim, thanks for your comment - it got lost in my 100 odd unread emails!! -- and all the exhibition prep. I know it's not particularly literary, but I just adore this one - it has a glamour about it...

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