|"Fairies," by Francis Danby|
Editor's note: Fairy tales don't often features actual fairies, so it's intriguing to have a poem that brings them to us (or us to them). Hercynius has given us a vivid peek into nature as well, with this work.
Where did you get to, time?
When we pass, do you stay behind?
Of you and me something yet mingling,
Out in the dusking sylvan stillness lingering. . . .
And why I stay here by this dark springlet,
Flowing out from these mossiest rocks
And plansch about in the cold water—why,
For springlet is sided by not mere trees,
But magical white cedar grove.
I sleep in mosses layered on cedar bases,
Stroke mosses layered over springlet rocks.
Lest I have all there ever could be wanted
Moist mosses mindless among that counted.
Rain, steady, cold, hardly hindering
Me, naturally coolish-wan since death.
There, out beyond the sacred cedars
My old life and times encircling, stalking,
Suspending, surrounding wood in pale white glow,
Imploring me to come out, to retry my trials:
Change it to suit, do please, rule it all round, needs be.
But I don't trust, don't want a new old me;
Rather, of the springlet and grove completely be,
Where nothing needs be, do please—nothing and anon.
To love fine downy mosses simple enough.
To lay down beside falls and feel good just.
And lo! now I see I am much smaller—
Not so big and needy, nor scary any longer.
No human hurts or hate must I ponder.
Nothing to have and no pockets anyway.
Now easily make friend of salamander,
Nibble and poke about rocks together.
Waters, cedars, salamander insist:
Pray, have wind and rain and mist
Take away loathing past so triste.
And the past does dissolve, washes down;
On mist droplets are ferns' spores sown.
I so beguiled by enchanted water—
Mostly about the mossy rocks linger,
Stray far from first pool hardly ever—
Though once to wander the flow:
Down one bank the morning
Then up the other till light low.
Then to sleep, and dream—or just dream—
In the deepest mosses about big cedar bole.
One moonless night the cedars all excited—
Shaking thousands of scaled evergreen mittens,
Shaking down tiny glowing cones to the ground—
Fairies have come! they say to me so delighted.
And around surround the Folk, each carrying lantern,
I hearken to their tinkling voices, their ringing banter:
Come out! Come out, dear one! they finally call together.
Oh yes! I see her! My true love, now their queen!
And she steps forth so gracious and sweet.
And she's wearing? Fine woven vine and leaf?
And for so long held come tears brimming,
Spilling for all my silly broad grinning.
Farewell to the cedars, the salamander, the springlet,
Stroke moss rock, cup water, promise all to return.
Take deep breaths of the cold charged clearness—
And slip into the dark green velvety forest
With the fairies and my true love, the new fairy queen.
Hercynius often retires to magical ceder groves in the Northern Minnesota wilds.