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The Fairy's Promise



Poet.
Beautiful silver-winged spirits of good,
That hide in the leaves of the loneliest wood;
Green-kirtled fairies whom none may see
But the soul that hath passion for Poesie.
Brownies and kelpies and fays and elves
Who keep the moon to your own little selves;
Ye whose light revel and quick-tripping round
Bend the white daisy-buds down to the ground:
The moon may be high and the night may be clear,
But leave them and list to a poet's prayer.

Fairy.
Mortal, speak on! we have loved thee long,
Thou hast told of our revels in sweetest song;
And only, alas! by the faith of men
Hold we our lives in the grassy glen.
Thou hast never plucked daisy or heather-bell
From the emerald braes where the fairies dwell;
Thou didst never fright from her leafy nest
The bird that the Fairies love ever the best,
But hast turned thy foot aside silently
When her round black eye fell fearful on thee;
Thou hast never torn fishes with cruel hooks
From the pleasant ripple of summer brooks;
So we love thee well, and will list to thy prayer,
Though the moon may be up, and the night may be clear.

Poet.
White-footed Fairy-Queen, close by the sea,
Like a beautiful child at her father's knee,
There sitteth a city beneath a hill
Where a lady is living apart and still;
Lovely and gentle and wise is she,
I love her most truly and faithfully;
Better than all that the world may hold,
Better than honour and life and gold.
I would thou shouldst watch her by day and by night,
That her beautiful eyes may be ever bright.

Fairy.
How shall we know her, that we may keep
Watch of her waking, and ward of her sleep?

Poet.
Look for a lady whose glossy hair
Borders a forehead most frank and fair;
Eyes that are full of a heavenly light
Like sister stars in the front of night;
Lips curving red like the crimson fold
Of a half-shut rose in the early cold,
Which never with singing or speech were stirred,
But the singing and speech was the sweetest heard;
Busy white fingers, slender and small,
Little feet lost in her garments' fall.
Graces like these and a thousand above
Shall guide thee in seeking the lady I love.

Fairy.
What name weareth she? tell us it true;
Whisper it low to the fairy crew.

Poet.
Read it, sweet Queen, on my beating heart,
Graven so deep, it can never part;
This shall be sign of the lady ye seek,
Say to her 'Janet' and she shall speak.

Fairy.
Fifty and four of my valiant fays
Shall watch in her walks through the weariest days;
Fifty and four in their liveries white
Have charge of her dreams in the dreariest night.
And the spirit that doth not his bidding well
Shall pine for the year in a dark nut shell.

Poet.
And may two of the truest at either ear
Whisper his name who hath sent them there!

Fairy.
Ay! and the fleetest shall come on the wind
Bringing thee news of thy lady's mind;
Rest thee well, lover! be quiet and calm;
Thy lady is charmed with the Fairies' charm.

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Submitted on May 13, 2011

2:43 min read
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Edwin Arnold

Edwin Arnold was an English poet and journalist. more…

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