Treasure Island

William Butler Yeats

(13 June 1865 – 28 January 1939 / County Dublin / Ireland)

A Lover's Quarrel Among the Fairies


A moonlight moor. Fairies leading a child.

Male Fairies: Do not fear us, earthly maid!
We will lead you hand in hand
By the willows in the glade,
By the gorse on the high land,

By the pasture where the lambs
Shall awake with lonely bleat,
Shivering closer to their dams
From the rustling of our feet.

You will with the banshee chat,
And will find her good at heart,
Sitting on a warm smooth mat
In the green hill's inmost part.

We will bring a crown of gold
Bending humbly every knee,
Now thy great white doll to hold --
Oh, so happy would we be!

Ah it is so very big,
And we are so very small!
So we dance a fairy jig
To the fiddle's rise and fall.

Yonder see the fairy girls
All their jealousy display,
Lift their chins and toss their curls,
Lift their chins and turn away.

See you, brother, Cranberry Fruit --
He! ho! ho! the merry blade! --
Hugs and pets and pats yon newt,
Teasing every wilful maid.

Girl Fairies: Lead they one with foolish care,
Deafening us with idle sound --
One whose breathing shakes the air,
One whose footfall shakes the ground.

Come you, Coltsfoot, Mousetail, come!
Come I know where, far away,
Owls there be whom age makes numb;
Come and tease them till the day.

Puffed like puff-balls on a tree,
Scoff they at the modern earth --
Ah! how large mice used to be
In their days of youthful mirth!

Come, beside a sandy lake,
Feed a fire with stems of grass;
Roasting berries steam and shake --
Talking hours swiftly pass!

Long before the morning fire
Wake the larks upon the green.
Yonder foolish ones will tire
Of their tall, new-fangled queen.

They will lead her home again
To the orchard-circled farm;
At the house of weary men
Raise the door-pin with alarm,

And come kneeling on one knee,
While we shake our heads and scold
This their wanton treachery,
And our slaves be as of old.

Submitted: Friday, January 03, 2003

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  • Shannon Brown (1/31/2006 2:04:00 PM)

    A well defined vision of the Wee Folk and the moral man. I love how Yeats comfortably shows the tiniest details that they Wee Folk us, things that many of us mortal take for granted or never look down to see. (Report) Reply

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