St. Valentine’s Eve
The Fire-side Fairies
I drink the dew from the cup of the flow’r,
I sport in the sunbeam that follows the show’r;
My soft couch is purple with violets spread,
A harebell the canopy over my head.
When sweet-breathing zephyr awakens our spring,
I ride over garlands and fields on his wing:
At noon, ere the tulip or sunflower blows,
My shelter I seek in the breast of the rose.
This eve when curfew-bells have rung,
And sober shadows round are flung,
While the humming-beetle flies,
And its wing the owlet tries,
Hush!—I haunt the whisp’ring grove,
Hearing tales of mortal love.
There I find the crafty youth
(Well we know with how much truth!)
Telling Dorcas how her eyes
Vies with stars of summer skies,
That she’s fair as yonder moon,
That she breathes like flowers in June—
O what pity men deceive!—
O how mortal maids believe!”
So sang the best of Fairy race,
Then on a Moth’s back took her place,
That all in down and gold array’d
About the table-taper play’d.
But in the chimney’s highest nook,
Hid in the cobweb of a book,
The fire-side Fairy sat and smil’d
To see the frolic moth beguil’d:
Then blithely answer’d—“Every year
On this sweet eve I frolick’d here,
Bringing a gift; but not like thine,
Full of strange vows and wit malign.
For I with ancient couples rest,
That years have join’d, and still are blest.
I have no sport in lovers’ freaks,
For such a merry goblin seeks;
But I had found a sweet fire-side,
Jocund and warm, where I might hide
My head among green tufts, and hear
Tales that might fairy revels cheer;
And rhymes of mariners, and spells
Of witches wild and Christobelles.
And there was one that in sweet mirth
Was call’d Titania—None on earth
So well could act our queen, for she
Had charter of kind sovereignty:
And lov’d our wiles and jests and sports
And revels in our grass-green courts
And antic holidays, and all
We fairies love in bower or hall.
Then she had sisters three, that bore
Names such as fairies had of yore:
I laugh’d to hear them, and in spring,
Whene’er those sisters walk’d, my wing
Wafted the blossom’d pea’s sweet breathings
And wept the cobweb from its wreathings:
But chiefly on this eve I came
To watch their hearth or candle’s flame
In likeness of a moth, while he
Who ruled their home, with gamesome glee
Lit up the rich hour’s revelry;
While giant Science stooped to strew
Light flowers and gems; as Phidias threw,
While on the form of Jove he toil’d,
His shreds of gold around, and smil’d.
To-night I come—but there is none
On that glad hearth;—the day is done!
Yet we will love it still, and ever
(When all the lovers’ bonds shall sever
Tied on this day) we yet will greet,
Holy and fresh, the Fireside seat,
And deck the hearth, till they who sigh
For one they lov’d, shall wonder why
So soon a grief becomes a joy;
A sweet and tender joy, that stays
Mix’d with the dearest dreams of other days.”
The Fireside Fairies ceas’d—together
Upon the light down of a feather
Pluck’d from a red-breast’s wing they rode,
And vanish’d far from sleeping man’s abode.