Katherine Mansfield

(14 October 1888 – 9 January 1923 / Wellington)

Fairy Tale - Poem by Katherine Mansfield

Now this is the story of Olaf
Who ages and ages ago
Lived right on the top of a mountain,
A mountain all covered with snow.

And he was quite pretty and tiny
With beautiful curling fair hair
And small hands like delicate flowers--
Cheeks kissed by the cold mountain air.

He lived in a hut made of pinewood
Just one little room and a door
A table, a chair, and a bedstead
And animal skins on the floor.

Now Olaf was partly fairy
And so never wanted to eat;
He thought dewdrops and raindrops were plenty
And snowflakes and all perfumes sweet.

In the daytime when sweeping and dusting
And cleaning were quite at an end,
He would sit very still on the doorstep
And dream--O, that he had a friend!

Somebody to come when he called them,
Somebody to catch by the hand,
Somebody to sleep with at night time,
Somebody who'd quite understand.

One night in the middle of Winter
He lay wide awake on his bed,
Outside there was fury of tempest
And calling of wolves to be fed--

Thin wolves, grey and silent as shadows;
And Olaf was frightened to death.
He had peeped through a crack in the doorpost,
He had seen the white smoke of their breath.

But suddenly over the storm wind
He heard a small voice pleadingly
Cry, "I am a snow fairy, Olaf,
Unfasten the window for me."

So he did, and there flew through the opening
The daintiest, prettiest sprite
Her face and her dress and her stockings,
Her hands and her curls were all white.

And she said, "O you poor little stranger
Before I am melted, you know,
I have brought you a valuable present,
A little brown fiddle and bow.

So now you can never be lonely,
With a fiddle, you see, for a friend,
But all through the Summer and Winter
Play beautiful songs without end."

And then,--O she melted like water,
But Olaf was happy at last;
The fiddle he tucked in his shoulder,
He held his small bow very fast.

So perhaps on the quietest of evenings
If you listen, you may hear him soon,
The child who is playing the fiddle
Away up in the cold, lonely moon.


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Read poems about / on: fairy, animal, lonely, winter, snow, beautiful, friend, summer, happy, hair, moon, child, water, sleep, dream, wind, night, death, kiss, flower



Poem Submitted: Tuesday, December 31, 2002



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