Some topics just call out for “old-fashioned” poetry – the kind that rhymes, and tells a story. Fairies are right up there on that list of themes.
Walter de la Mare (1873-1956) – prolific English poet, and fiction author, best remembered for his poem “The Listeners,” the title poem in a collection which won the 1947 Carnegie medal for children’s books. He published 13 collections of poetry.
Walter de la Mare wrote hundreds of wonderful old-fashioned poems, which were very popular in his early-to-middle years. His poem “The Listeners” still appears in many anthologies, but most of his other poems are waiting to be discovered by a new audience.
To read Walter de la Mare’s poem “The Fairies Dancing,” click
The Fairies Dancing
by Walter de la Mare
I heard along the early hills,
Ere yet the lark was risen up,
Ere yet the dawn with firelight fills
The night-dew of the bramble-cup,—
I heard the fairies in a ring
Sing as they tripped a lilting round
Soft as the moon on wavering wing.
The starlight shook as if with sound,
As if with echoing, and the stars
Prankt their bright eyes with trembling gleams
While red with war the gusty Mars
Rained upon earth his ruddy beams.
He shone alone, low down the West,
While I, behind a hawthorn-bush,
Watched on the fairies flaxen-tressed
The fires of the morning flush.
Till, as a mist, their beauty died,
Their singing shrill and fainter grew;
And daylight tremulous and wide
Flooded the moorland through and through;
Till Urdon’s copper weathercock
Was reared in golden flame afar,
And dim from moonlit dreams awoke
The towers and groves of Arroar.
“The Fairies Dancing” from Come Hither: A Collection of Rhymes and Poems for the Young of All Ages, by Walter del al Mare –Knopf (1957)
- Queen of the Fairies, from Midsummers Night, by Arthur Rackham
- Fairies at the Full Moon, by Arthur Rackham