Cicely Fox Smith
The Fairy Shepherd - Poem by Cicely Fox Smith
When stars come gleaming one by one,
And fold and farm are still,
O I go out to keep the sheep
All night upon the hill.
My master deems me chill and cold
When he lies warm in bed,
But I run leaping with my flock,
And lightly goes my tread.
I drive them to the fairy ring
Beneath the fairy thron,
And they lie sleeping, one and all,
Like little clouds at morn.
O then I go by secret ways
That ever turn and twist
Among the knotted gorse-bushes
Thick as a grown man's wrist, -
I go amid the weird white stems,
That grow so close and high,
I see thicket all around
And then the starlit sky.
And underneath the wan white moon
Amid the furze and whin,
O I sit down upon the ground
And whistle for my kin.
I whistle with the tune I know,
The tune of Faerie, -
You hear it not by light of day,
Either by land or sea, -
And soon I hear across the night
My kin that answer me.
O first it's like the fitful wind
That whistles down the hill,
And then it's like the curlew's cry
Across the moorland shrill,
And then it's like a bugle-horn,
A-blowing clear and thin,
And they are round me suddenly,
The Little Folk my kin.
My master knows not who am I,
Nor where by night I go;
But I make merry all the night
In fields he cannot know.
And when the starlight flickers low
And birds begin to stir,
My kin go from me suddenly
And leave me sitting there.
O there is dew upon my shoes
That's from no mortal hill,
When I go homeward at the dawn
Across the upland chill.
O I sit down and drowse all day,
I heed not wind or rain:
But I go out when day is dead
To keep the sheep again.
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