Funeral Among the Little People

The term of Fairy life appears…

Restricted to a thousand years ; `

And hence, ’tis said, the envious spite,

With which some fairy elves delight ‘

To vex those days with care and strife,

Which prelude man’s immortal life.

Though Fancy’s eye at eve has seen

Bright fairies dancing on the green ;

And oft returning traced at morn

The rings by frequent footsteps worn ;

Though Fancy’s eye has Puck espied

While many a trick malign he tried;

Or kinder sprites has seen at night,

Aid human toils with elfish might

Their bounty oft in gifts has known,

Or proved-their wants by trivial loan;

Their utmost weakness still was hid,

A sight to prying gaze forbid,

Till one strange night, revealed at last

To rustic Wight, with awe aghast.

Amid the drifted sands of Hayle,

The home of many a fairy tale,

From far St. Ives old Richard came,

With pilchards laden for his dame.

Retarded by the burden’s weight,

He crossed the mystic Towyn late.

From cloudless skies a moon serene,

With silvery light illumined the scene ;

A deadened hell, with toll suppressed,

Alone disturbed the landscape’s rest ;

As up the hill his course he wound,

With wondering ears he caught the sound,

And when towards Lelant church he drew,

Bright lights within it gleamed to view.

Then nameless fears his heart assailed,

Yet hope inquisitive prevailed;

With cautious steps, with movement still,

He ventured towards a window sill,

Peeped in, and dazzled by the light,

Saw only, all within was bright.

At length, along the centre aisle,

With progress slow, in double file

He saw a long procession move

Through crowds impressed with sorrowing love.

Their tiny torches, slips of pine,

On all the fair, assembly shine,

And flowers of phosphorescent light

Cast radiance from the altar’s height.

No coffin, sable robes, or pal],

Obscured this fairy funeral.

They wreaths of ting roses wore,

And sprays of blossomed myrtle bore ;.

Six to the bier their shoulders pressed,

Whereon, attired in flowing vest,

A fairy lady, so minute

No human type her form might suit,

So fair, so exquisite, her face,

Our language fails to speak its grace ;

So lovely, in that sad display,

Like “ a dead seraph ” there she lay.

White flowers the little corpse o’erspread,

White blossoms wreathed the beauteous head,

And twined among the hair’s gold thread.

The bier approached the altar rail,

They rested it within the pale,

While close beneath that altar’s shade,

With many a pickaxe small, and spade,

A host of little sextons gave

Their toil to shape a little grave.

With all the reverence of love,

Then tenderest hands the corpse remove,

And fondest looks all thronging pressed

To see her, ere her latest rest.

The corpse was lowered, and off they tear

Their wreaths, and breaking in despair

Their flowery branches wildly spread,

And loudly wail, Our Queen is dead !

Our Queen is dead ! A sexton’s spade

Then dust on that fair body laid,—

And thrilling from the host arose

A shriek, so eloquent of woes,

That Richard, from his caution thrown,

Augments its clamour with his own.

That very instant all was rout,

And every fairy light went out.

Unknown

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