The Project Gutenberg eBook of The Fairy Green

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Title: The Fairy Green

Author: Rose Fyleman

Release date: June 10, 2019 [eBook #59726]

Language: English

Credits: Produced by Al Haines



Fairies and Chimneys
The Fairy Flute
The Rainbow Cat, and Other Stories







First Published ... October 23rd 1919
Second Edition ... December 1919
Third Edition ... November 1920
Fourth Edition ... May 1921
Fifth (School) Edition ... October 1921
Sixth Edition ... December 1921
Seventh Edition ... October 1922




The Daphne Bush
Alms in Autumn
Fairy Music
The Hayfield
This Island
Smith Square, Westminster
The Enchanted Princess
The Goblin to the Fairy Queen
The Fairy Queen to the Goblin
Fairies in Autumn
Trees and Fairies
Fairies in the Malverns
The Fairies send Messengers
Dunsley Glen


The Cuckoo
The Rooks
The Robin
The Cock
The Grouse


There are no Wolves in England now
Mrs. Brown
The Spring
Cousin Gwen
The Butcher
The Pillar-Box
The Dentist
My Policeman
The Porridge Plate
The Fairy Green
The Visit


To the Fairies




I've seen her, I've seen her
    Beneath an apple-tree;
The minute that I saw her there
With stars and dewdrops in her hair
    I knew it must be she.
She's sitting on a dragon-fly
    All shining green and gold;
The dragon-fly goes circling round
A little way above the ground—
    She isn't taking hold.

I've seen her, I've seen her,
    I never, never knew
That anything could be so sweet;
She has the tiniest hands and feet,
    Her wings are very blue.
She holds her little head like this
    Because she is a queen;
(I can't describe it all in words)
She's throwing kisses to the birds
    And laughing in between.

I've seen her, I've seen her—
    I simply ran and ran;
Put down your sewing quickly, please,
Let's hurry to the orchard trees
    As softly as we can.
I had to go and leave her there,
    I felt I couldn't stay,
I wanted you to see her too—
But oh, whatever shall we do
    If she has flown away?


Please be careful where you tread,
    The fairies are about;
Last night, when I had gone to bed,
    I heard them creeping out.
And wouldn't it be a dreadful thing
    To do a fairy harm?
To crush a little delicate wing
    Or bruise a tiny arm?
They're all about the place, I know,
So do be careful where you go.

Please be careful what you say,
    They're often very near,
And though they turn their heads away
    They cannot help but hear.
And think how terribly you would mind
    If, even for a joke,
You said a thing that seemed unkind
    To the dear little fairy folk.
I'm sure they're simply everywhere,
So promise me that you'll take care.


All about the daphne bush the happy fairies went,
And spread abroad their silken hair to catch its magic scent;
They chanted little silver tunes, they danced the whole day long;
The rosy bush was ringed around with chains of coloured song.

They danced, they sang, they flung about their tiny fairy names,
Till swiftly over all the sky there ran the sunset flames;
Then high into the glowing air they leapt with joyful shout,
And with the ruddy shreds of mist they wrapped themselves about.

Into my quiet garden close they swiftly dropped again
(The music of their merriment tinkled like falling rain);
Laughing they swayed, while from their hair they shook the
            warm perfume,
Till all the place seemed filled with clouds of drifting
            daphne bloom.


Spindle-wood, spindle-wood, will you lend me, pray,
A little flaming lantern to guide me on my way?
The fairies all have vanished from the meadow and the glen
And I would fain go seeking till I find them once again.
Lend me now a lantern that I may bear a light
To find the hidden pathway in the darkness of the night.

Ash-tree, ash-tree, throw me, if you please,
Throw me down a slender bunch of russet-gold keys.
I fear the gates of Fairyland may all be shut so fast
That nothing but your magic keys will ever take me past.
I'll tie them to my girdle, and as I go along
My heart will find a comfort in the tinkle of their song.

Holly-bush, holly-bush, help me in my task,
A pocketful of berries is all the alms I ask:
A pocketful of berries to thread in glowing strands
(I would not go a-visiting with nothing in my hands)
So fine will be the rosy chains, so gay, so glossy bright
They'll set the realms of Fairyland all dancing with delight.


When the fiddlers play their tunes you may sometimes hear,
Very softly chiming in, magically clear,
Magically high and sweet, the tiny crystal notes
Of fairy voices bubbling free from tiny fairy throats.

When the birds at break of day chant their morning prayers,
Or on sunny afternoons pipe ecstatic airs,
Comes an added rush of sound to the silver din—
Songs of fairy troubadours gaily joining in.

When athwart the drowsy fields summer twilight falls,
Through the tranquil air there float elfin madrigals
And in wild November nights, on the winds astride,
Fairy hosts go rushing by, singing as they ride.

Every dream that mortals dream, sleeping or awake,
Every lovely fragile hope—these the fairies take,
Delicately fashion them and give them back again
In tender, limpid melodies that charm the hearts of men.


Over the field the fairies went
Singing and dancing and well content;
Over the field of sweet warm grass
I saw their shimmering cohorts pass.

The clover flamed to a ruddier glow,
The slender buttercups curtseyed low,
The wondering daisies, innocent-eyed,
Bowed their heads to the radiant tide.

And flirting butterflies, pearly white,
Left the flowers for a new delight,
Left their loves for the fairies' sake,
And fluttered dizzily in their wake.

Over the swaying grass they swept,
Over the hedgerow soared and leapt,
Broke and scattered in golden spray,
Gleamed and glittered—and melted away.


I know an island in a lake,
Green upon waters grey;
It has a strange enchanted air;
I hear the fairies singing there
When I go by that way.

They guard their hidden dwelling-place
With bands of stalwart reeds,
But sometimes, by a happy chance,
I see them all come out and dance
Upon the water-weeds.

One night, one summer night, I know
Suddenly I shall wake,
And very softly hasten down
And out beyond the sleeping town
To find my fairy lake.

I shall not need to seek a boat,
It will be moored, I think,
Within a tiny pebbled bay
Where meadow-sweet and mallow sway
Close to the water's brink.

The moon from shore to shadowy shore
Will make a shining trail,
And I shall sing their fairy song
As joyfully I float along—
I shall not need a sail.

And peering through a starlit haze
I presently shall see,
Where swift the waiting reeds unclose,
The fairies all in rows and rows
Waiting to welcome me.


In Smith Square, Westminster, the houses stand so prim,
With slender railings at their feet and windows straight and slim;
And all day long they staidly stare with gentle placid gaze,
And dream of joyous happenings in splendid bygone days.

In Smith Square, Westminster, you must not make a noise,
No shrill-voiced vendors harbour there, no shouting errand-boys;
But very busy gentlemen step swiftly out and in
With little leather cases and umbrellas neatly thin.

Yet sometimes when the summer night her starry curtain spreads,
And all the busy gentlemen are sleeping in their beds,
You hear a gentle humming like the humming of a hive,
And Smith Square, Westminster, begins to come alive.

For all the houses start to sing, honey-sweet and low,
The tender little lovely songs of long and long ago,
And all the fairies round about come hastening up in crowds,
Until the quiet air is filled with rainbow-coloured clouds.

On roof and rail and chimney-pot they delicately perch,
They hang like jewelled fringes on the ledges of the church;
They dance about the roadway upon nimble, noiseless feet,
While the houses keep on chanting with a soft enticing beat.

And still they weave their sparkling webs and still they
        leap and whirl
Until the far horizon's edge is faintly rimmed with pearl,
And the morning breeze blows out the stars discreetly, one by one,
And the sentries on the Abbey signal down—"The Sun—the Sun!"

And long before the butlers stumble drowsily downstairs,
And long before their masters have begun to say their prayers,
The fairies all have pranced away upon the morning beams,
And Smith Square, Westminster, is wrapped once more in dreams.


She wanders in the forest with wide and solemn eyes;
A little shade of wilderment across her forehead lies.

No timid woodland creature her footfall need affright,
The shadow of her floating hair is not more soft and light.

She hears the gentle cadence of bird and wind and stream,
They make a little song for her, like singing in a dream.

Across the distant valley the pleasant sunbeams fall;
The children in the cowslip field merrily laugh and call.

She does not hear their laughter, she does not feel the sun,
She cannot leave the shadowed wood until the spell is done.


What do you lack, queen, queen,
    That is precious and fine and rare?
A jewelled snood that shall lie between
    The delicate waves of your hair?
I will ride through the sky on the evening wind
    With a golden needle and thread,
And string up the tiniest stars I can find,
    To glitter about your head.

What can I do, queen, queen,
    To hasten the hours along
When you grow weary of woodland green,
    Weary of woodland song?
A cage of gossamer gold I will tie
    On to a skylark's wing,
And there you shall hang in the midst of the sky
    And tremble to hear him sing.

Grant me a boon, queen, queen;
    This is the boon that I ask—
Let me do service, mighty or mean,
    Give me a task, a task.
Are there no jackanapes giants to slay?
    Are there no dragons to fight?
Nothing shall daunt me by dark or by day;
    Make me your goblin knight!


Last night I heard a singing—a singing in my dreams,
It wandered through my land of sleep like little silver streams;
Like little purling silver streams that gently laugh and coo—
Goblin with the shining eyes, goblin, was it you?

Softer than the tender croon of my happy doves,
Sweeter than my nightingales pouring forth their loves,
Clearer than my valiant lark triumphant in the blue;
Goblin with the whimsic smile, goblin, was it you?

All night long the singer stayed close beside my bower,
Weaving his enchanted songs, till that magic hour
When the early morning light creeps across the dew;
Goblin with the steadfast heart, goblin, was it you?


You perch upon the leaves where the trees are very high,
And you all shout together as the wind goes by;
The merry mad wind sets the leaves all afloat,
And off you go a-sailing in an airy wee boat.

You fly to the edges of a grim grey cloud,
And you all start a-dancing and a-singing very loud;
The cloud melts away in a shower of peevish rain
And you slide down from heaven on a slim silver chain.


The larch-tree gives them needles
    To stitch their gossamer things;
Carefully, cunningly toils the oak
To shape the cups of the fairy folk;
    The sycamore gives them wings.

The lordly fir-tree rocks them
    High on his swinging sails;
The hawthorn fashions their tiny spears;
The whispering alder charms their ears
    With soft, mysterious tales.

The chestnut gives them candles
    To make their ballroom fine;
And the elder-bush and the hazel tree
Assist their delicate revelry
    With nuts and fragrant wine.


As I walked over Hollybush Hill
The sun was low and the winds were still,
And never a whispering branch I heard
Nor ever the tiniest call of a bird.

And when I came to the topmost height
Oh, but I saw such a wonderful sight:
All about on the hill-crest there
The fairies danced in the golden air.

Danced and frolicked with never a sound
In and out in a magical round;
Wide and wider the circle grew
Then suddenly melted into the blue.

* * * * * * *

As I walked down into Eastnor Vale
The stars already were twinkling pale,
And over the spaces of dew-white grass
I saw a marvellous pageant pass.

Tiny riders on tiny steeds,
Decked with blossoms and armed with reeds,
With gossamer banners floating far
And a radiant queen in an ivory car.

The beeches spread their petticoats wide
And curtseyed low upon either side;
The rabbits scurried across the glade
To peep at the glittering cavalcade.

Far and farther I saw them go
And vanish into the woods below;
Then over the shadowy woodland ways
I wandered home in a sweet amaze.

* * * * * * *

But Malvern people need fear no ill
Since fairies bide in their country still.


They sent a stout little red-breast bird;
He sang from the garden wall;
Surely, oh, surely the children heard,
But never they came to his call.

They sent a capering, glad young breeze;
He shouted, he rattled about;
But the children sat with their books on their knees
And gave no heed to his shout.

They sent a bee in a velvet coat,
Busily, busily gay;
He hummed his tale on a spirited note
But the children chased him away.

They sent a brave little fairy sprite;
She peeped round the window frame;
The children looked, and their eyes grew bright,
And they came!


There is no road to Dunsley Glen,
I should not know the way again
Because the fairies took me there,
Down by a little rocky stair—
A little stair all twists and turns,
Half hidden by the spreading ferns.

High overhead the trees were green,
With little bits of blue between,
So high that they could see, I'm sure,
Beyond the wood, beyond the moor,
The water many miles away
Mistily shining in the bay.

Deep in the glen a streamlet cool
Ran down into a magic pool,
With mossy caverns all about
Where fairies fluttered in and out;
Their sparkling wings and golden hair
Made dancing twinkles here and there.

I stood and watched them at their play
Until I dared no longer stay;
I knew that I might seek and seek
On every day of every week
Ere I should find the place again—
There is no road to Dunsley Glen.



Peacocks sweep the fairies' rooms;
They use their folded tails for brooms;
But fairy dust is brighter far
Than any mortal colours are,
And all about their tails it clings
In strange designs of rounds and rings:
And that is why they strut about
And proudly spread their feathers out.


The Cuckoo is a tell-tale,
    A mischief-making bird;
He flies to East, he flies to West
And whispers into every nest
    The wicked things he's heard;
He loves to spread his naughty lies,
He laughs about it as he flies:
"Cuckoo," he cries, "cuckoo, cuckoo,
    It's true, it's true."

And when the fairies catch him
    His busy wings they dock,
They shut him up for evermore
(He may not go beyond the door)
    Inside a wooden clock;
Inside a wooden clock he cowers
And has to tell the proper hours—
"Cuckoo," he cries, "cuckoo, cuckoo,
    It's true, it's true."


High in the elm-trees sit the rooks,
Or flit about with busy looks
    And solemn, ceaseless caws.
Small wonder they are so intent,
They are the fairies' Parliament—
    They make the fairy laws.

They never seem to stop all day,
And you can hear from far away
    Their busy chatter-chat.
They work so very hard indeed
You'd wonder that the fairies need
    So many laws as that.


The robin is the fairies' page;
    They keep him neatly dressed
For country service or for town
In dapper livery of brown
    And little scarlet vest.

On busy errands all day long
    He hurries to and fro
With watchful eyes and nimble wings—
There are not very many things
    The robin doesn't know.

And he can tell you, if he will,
    The latest fairy news:
The quaint adventures of the King,
And whom the Queen is visiting,
    And where she gets her shoes.

And lately, when the fairy Court
    Invited me to tea,
He stood behind the Royal Chair;
And here I solemnly declare,
When he discovered I was there.
    That robin winked at me.


The kindly cock is the fairies' friend,
He warns them when their revels must end;
He never forgets to give the word,
For the cock is a thoroughly punctual bird.

And since he grieves that he never can fly.
Like all the other birds, up in the sky,
The fairies put him now and again
High on a church for a weather-vane.

Little for sun or for rain he cares;
He turns about with the proudest airs
And chuckles with joy as the clouds go past
To think he is up in the sky at last.


The Grouse that lives on the moorland wide
Is filled with a most ridiculous pride;
He thinks that it all belongs to him,
And every one else must obey his whim.
When the queer wee folk who live on the moors
Come joyfully leaping out of their doors
To frisk about on the warm sweet heather
Laughing and chattering all together,
He looks askance at their rollicking play
And calls to them in the angriest way:
"You're a feather-brained, foolish, frivolous pack,
Go back, you rascally imps, go back!"

But little enough they heed his shout,
Over the rocks they tumble about;
They chase each other over the ling;
They kick their heels in the heather and sing:
"Oho, Mr. Grouse, you'd best beware,
Or some fine day, if you don't take care,
The witch who lives in the big brown bog
With a wise old weasel, a rat and a frog,
Will come a-capering over the fell
And put you under a horrible spell;
Your feathers will moult and your voice will crack—
Go back, you silly old bird, go back!"



Before I was a little girl I was a little bird,
I could not laugh, I could not dance, I could not speak a word;
But all about the woods I went and up into the sky—
And isn't it a pity I've forgotten how to fly?

I often came to visit you. I used to sit and sing
Upon our purple lilac-bush that smells so sweet in Spring;
But when you thanked me for my song of course you never knew
I soon should be a little girl and come to live with you.


I wake in the morning early
And always, the very first thing,
I poke out my head and I sit up in bed
And I sing and I sing and I sing.


There are no wolves in England now, nor any grizzly bears;
You could not meet them after dark upon the attic stairs.

When Nanna goes to fetch the tea there is no need at all
To leave the nursery door ajar in case you want to call.

And mother says, in fairy tales, those bits are never true
That tell you all the dreadful deeds that wicked fairies do.

And wouldn't it be silly for a great big girl like me
To be the leastest bit afraid of things that couldn't be?


As soon as I'm in bed at night
And snugly settled down,
The little girl I am by day
Goes very suddenly away,
And then I'm Mrs. Brown.

I have a family of six,
And all of them have names,
The girls are Joyce and Nancy Maud,
The boys are Marmaduke and Claude
And Percival and James.

We have a house with twenty rooms
A mile away from town;
I think it's good for girls and boys
To be allowed to make a noise—
And so does Mr. Brown.

We do the most exciting things,
Enough to make you creep;
And on and on and on we go—
I sometimes wonder if I know
When I have gone to sleep.


A little mountain spring I found
That fell into a pool;
I made my hands into a cup
And caught the sparkling water up—
It tasted fresh and cool.

A solemn little frog I spied
Upon the rocky brim;
He looked so boldly in my face,
I'm certain that he thought the place
Belonged by rights to him.


I like my cousin very much
Because of course one should;
She comes to spend the day with me
And stays to dinner and to tea,
And she is very good.

Her shining hair is smooth and neat,
She always wears a plait,
And French Translation she can do
And Algebra and Science too,
And clever things like that.

My Nanna thinks I ought to try
And copy Cousin Gwen;
But I could never be like her,
Indeed, indeed, I wish I were—
Excepting now and then.


The butcher's shop is open wide
And everyone can see inside;
He stands behind the rows of meat
And gazes out into the street.

He always wears a coat of blue,
He has a linen apron too,
And with his knife he rather looks
Like ogres in the story-books.

He smiles and nods and says "Good-day"
If nurse and I go by that way
When we are shopping in the town—
I've never seen him sitting down.


The pillar-box is fat and red,
It's mouth is very wide,
It wears a Tammy on its head—
It must be dark inside.

And really it's the greatest fun
When mother lets me stop
And post the letters one by one—
I like to hear them drop.


I'd like to be a dentist with a plate upon the door
And a little bubbling fountain in the middle of the floor;
With lots of tiny bottles all arranged in coloured rows
And a page-boy with a line of silver buttons down his clothes.

I'd love to polish up the things and put them every day
Inside the darling chests of drawers all tidily away;
And every Sunday afternoon when nobody was there
I should go riding up and down upon the velvet chair.


I'm rather fond of medicine, especially if it's pink,
Or else the fizzy-wizzy kind that makes you want to blink;
And eucalyptus lozenges are very nice I think.

I like it when I'm really ill and have to stay in bed
With mother's grown-up pillows all frilly round my head;
But measles is the funniest, because you get so red.


He is always standing there
At the corner of the Square;
He is very big and fine
And his silver buttons shine.

All the carts and taxis do
Everything he tells them to,
And the little errand-boys
When they pass him make no noise.

Though I seem so very small
I am not afraid at all;
He and I are friends, you see,
And he always smiles at me.

Once I wasn't very good
Rather near to where he stood,
But he never said a word
Though I'm sure he must have heard.

Nurse has a policeman too
(Hers has brown eyes, mine has blue),
Hers is sometimes on a horse,
But I like mine best of course.


My porridge plate at Grannie's house is white and misty blue,
And as I eat the porridge up the picture all comes through;
There is a castle on a lake, a tall tall lady too.

The castle has a flight of steps and lots of pointed towers,
A garden and a summer-house a little bit like ours,
And trees with leaves like feathers and the most enormous flowers.

I don't care much for porridge in an ordinary way
(Though it's jolly when there's treacle and your Nanna
    lets you play),
But when I stop at Grannie's house I like it every day.


Upon the magic green I stood
    Within the fairy ling,
Close to the little rustling wood
    Where fairies always sing.

I was a little bit afraid,
    I kept my eyes shut tight,
While all around they danced and played—
    I felt the shining light.

Nearer and nearer still they came,
    They touched my dress, my hair;
They called me softly by my name;
    I heard them everywhere.

I never moved, I never spoke
    (Oh, but my heart beat fast),
And so the little fairy folk
    All went away at last,

To-morrow I shall go again
    And seek the magic place,
I shall not be so foolish then,
    I shall not hide my face.

But I shall stay for hours and hours
    Until the daylight ends,
And we shall dance among the flowers
    And be the greatest friends.

And I shall learn their fairy song;
    And when I come away
Shall dream of it the whole night long
    And sing it every day.


When I went to Fairyland, visiting the Queen,
I rode upon a peacock, blue and gold and green;
Silver was the harness, crimson were the reins,
All hung about with little bells that swung on silken chains.

When I went to Fairyland, indeed you cannot think
What pretty things I had to eat, what pretty things to drink.
And did you know that butterflies could sing like little birds?
And did you guess that fairy-talk is not a bit like words?

When I went to Fairyland—of all the lovely things!—
They really taught me how to fly, they gave me fairy wings;
And every night I listen for a tapping on the pane—
I want so very much to go to Fairyland again.



Kindly little fairy friends,
Here I fain would make amends;
For I seek my verses through,
Find no word of thanks to you.

Many, oh, so many times
You have helped me with my rhymes;
When my tiny songs were dumb
Oft and often have you come;
Oft and often have I heard,
Sweeter than the song of bird,
Fairy voices, crystal-clear,
Very softly at my ear
(While you poised on fluttering wings)
Telling me enchanting things.
Often at the fall of night,
In the gentle, dusky light
Through my garden as I went,
To my joy and wonderment
Suddenly the air around
Blossomed into lovely sound,
And I knew that you were there
All about me everywhere.

Could I tell what I have heard,
Magic sound and magic word,
There would be a book indeed
Fit for all the world to read.
But alas!—For all my pains,
Of those sweet mysterious strains
I can only hope to catch
Here an echo, there a snatch.
Yours is any happy line,
All that's done amiss is mine.

The author's best thanks are due to the Editor and Proprietors of Punch, through whose courtesy she is able to include in this collection a number of verses which have already appeared in that paper.