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Anna Jane Vardill

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.


The European Magazine, Vol. 77, June 1820, p. 536