A Lament for the Fairies.

Beautiful fictions of our trusting youth,1
(Visions we sigh that we have only dreamed !)2
When Fancy mocked the searching gaze of Truth,3
And the whole earth with bright enchantments
teemed :
How have we loved to forest glades to flee ;5
By haunted streams (in thought) to take our
stand ;
To watch you circling round the greenwood tree,7
Or trace your gambols on the moonlit strand !8
Or, when in gorgeous panoply arrayed,9
To grace some pageant of the Elfin Queen,10
You pricked along, a gallant cavalcade,11
Painting the verdant turf a livelier green !12
Nor less we loved you, when, with pitying air,13
And hand beneficent, around you showered14
Gifts, might the world’s and nature’s spite repair,15
And leave the homeliest maiden doubly dowered.16
But the bright realm of Fairyland is gone ;17
Its iris-tinted train hath passed away ;18
And Ariel, Mab, Titania, Oberon,19
But grace the painter’s scene, or poet’s lay.20
E’en Puck, dear imp of mischief and of mirth,21
O’er hill and dale,” at length hath ceased to
Though long-eared “ Bottoms” cumber still the
Whose “ asses’ nowls ” he is not here to change !24
The Sword of Sharpness” is no longer keen ;25
The Seven League Boots” we distance now, at
will ;
Our sole surviving “ Giant” is the Spleen,27
Which, we, like David, with a stone can kill ! *28
No more, no more, upon the velvet mead,29
On mushroom tables are your banquets spread ;30
No more with flying feet the dance you speed,31
Till dimming glow-worms hint ’tis time for bed !32
No fairy favours” now reward the fair ;33
Nor pearls nor diamonds from her lips are told ;34
No elfin matron makes her bliss her care,35
With purse exhaustless, filled with fairy gold.36
Your unseen aid, like angel-help, in vain,37
The toil-worn hind may, in his strait, implore ;38
The shadowy flail” to ease his task will rain39
Its stalwart blows in his behoof no more !40
Virtue no longer, in her sorest needs,41
By fairy hands is rescued from her thrall ;42
And rampant Vice, how dark soe’er his deeds,43
Your well-earned frowns may now no more
appal !
* Green in his excellent poem, “ The Spleen,” says:—
Fling but a stone, the giant dies.”
The superstitions sweet that charmed our youth ;45
The large belief that bade us still dream on ;46
The dear illusions we mistook for truth ;47
The shaping power” that gave them grace—
are flown !
Yet these fair fictions of our earlier day49
We have but changed for guides less kind and
bland ;
The glittering cheats that lead us now astray,51
Are falser far than those of Fairy Land !52
Love, Friendship, Hope, Ambition, Glory, Pride,53
All, ignis-fatuus-like, by turns, invite,54
But when we follow, make a circuit wide,55
Where fields are dank, and there withdraw their
light !
Though poets still, as they were wont of yore,57
With filial love to fairy legends cling ;58
The charm is half-dispelled, for they no more59
Believe the magic wonders that they sing !”60
Yet, till the Muse from earth is driven away,61
And young Romance hath broken too her wand ;62
Will elfin lore still grace the poet’s lay,63
And his heart’s home be still in Fairyland !64