BETA

Nine children feature prominently in the foreground and miniature fairies appear amid the children and in the background. Rectangular frame curved on the top edges. Full-page illustration.

Seeking.

And where, and among what pleasant places,1
Have ye been, that ye come again2
With your laps so full of flowers, and your faces3
Like buds blown fresh after rain?”4
We have been,” said the children speaking5
In their gladness, as the birds chime6
All together,— “ we have been seeking7
For the Fairies of olden time ;8
For we thought, they are only hidden9
They would never surely go10
From this green earth all unbidden,11
And the children that love them so ;12
Though they come not around us leaping,13
As they did when They and the World14
Were young, we shall find them sleeping15
Within some broad leaf curled ;16
For the lily its white doors closes17
But only over the bee,18
And we looked through the summer roses,19
Leaf by leaf, so carefully ;20
But we thought, roll’d up we shall find them21
Among mosses old and dry,22
From gossamer threads that bend them,23
They will start like the butterfly,24
All winged ; so we went forth seeking,25
Yet still they have kept unseen ;26
Though we think our feet have been keeping27
The track where they have been,28
For we saw where their dance went flying29
O’er the pastures—snowy white30
Their seats and their tables lying,31
O’erthrown in their sudden flight.32
And they, too, have had their losses,33
For we found the goblets white34
And red in the old spiked mosses,35
That they drank from over-night ;36
And in the pale horn of the woodbine37
Was some wine left, clear and bright ;38
But we found,” said the children speaking39
More quickly, “ so many things,40
That we soon forgot we were seeking41
Forgot all the Fairy rings,42
Forgot all the stories olden,43
That we hear round the fire at night,44
Of their gifts and their favours golden45
The sunshine was so bright ;46
And the flowers—we found so many47
That it almost made us grieve48
To think there were some, sweet as any,49
That we were forced to leave ;50
As we left, by the brook-side lying,51
The balls of drifted foam,52
And brought (after all our trying)53
These Guelder-roses home.”54
Then, oh !” I heard one speaking55
Beside me soft and low,56
I have been, like the blessed children seeking,57
Still seeking, to and fro ;58
Yet not, like them, for the Fairies,59
They might pass unmourn’d away60
For me, that had look’d on angels—61
On angels that would not stay ;62
No ! not though in haste before them63
I spread all my heart’s best cheer,64
And made love my banner o’er them,65
If it might but keep them here ;66
They stay’d but a while to rest them ;67
Long, long before its close,68
From my feast, though I mourn’d and prest them,69
The radiant guests arose ;70
And their flitting wings struck sadness71
And silence ; never more72
Hath my soul won back the gladness,73
That was its own before.74
No ; I mourn’d not for the Fairies75
When I had seen hopes decay,76
That were sweet unto my spirit77
So long. I said, ‘ If they,78
That through shade and sunny weather79
Have twined about my heart,80
Should fade, we must go together,81
For we can never part.’82
But my care was not availing,83
IIfound their sweetness gone ;84
I saw their bright tints paling ;—85
They died ; yet I lived on.86
Yet seeking, ever seeking,87
Like the children, I have won88
A guerdon all undreamt of,89
When first my quest begun.90
And my thoughts come back like wanderers,91
Out-wearied, to my breast ;92
What they sought for long they found not,93
Yet was the Unsought best.94
For I sought not out for crosses,95
I did not seek for pain ;96
Yet I find the heart’s sore losses97
Were the spirit’s surest gain.”98
1/8-page tailpiece with symmetrical flowers that frame miniature child-like fairies emerging from the ground.