Yeats' FAIRY AND FOLK
TALES OF THE IRISH PEASANTRY
THE FAIRY THORN
An Ulster Ballad
Sir Samuel Ferguson
"Get up, our Anna dear, from the weary spinning-wheel;
your father's on the hill, and your mother is asleep;
Come up above the
crags, and we'll dance a highland-reel
Around the fairy thorn on
At Anna Grace's door 'twas thus the maidens cried,
maidens fair in kirtles of the green;
And Anna laid the rock and the weary
The fairest of the four, I ween.
They're glancing through the glimmer of the quiet eve,
milky wavings of neck and ankle bare;
The heavy-sliding stream in its sleepy
song they leave,
And the crags in the ghostly air:
And linking hand in hand, and singing as they go,
along the hill-side have ta'en their fearless way,
Till they come to where
the rowan trees in lonely beauty grow
Beside the Fairy Hawthorn
The Hawthorn stands between the ashes tall and slim,
matron with her twin grand-daughters at her knee;
The rowan berries cluster
o'er her low head grey and dim
In ruddy kisses sweet to see.
The merry maidens four have ranged them in a row,
lovely couple a stately rowan stem,
And away in mazes wavy, like skimming
birds they go,
Oh, never caroll'd bird like them!
But solemn is the silence of the silvery haze
That drinks away
their voices in echoless repose,
And dreamily the evening has still'd the
And dreamier the gloaming grows.
And sinking one by one, like lark-notes from the sky
falcon's shadow saileth across the open shaw,
Are hush'd the maiden's voices,
as cowering down they he
In the flutter of their sudden awe.
For, from the air above, the grassy ground beneath,
the mountain-ashes and the old Whitethorn between,
A Power of faint
enchantment doth through their beings breathe,
And they sink down
together on the green.
They sink together silent, and stealing side by side,
fling their lovely arms o'er their drooping necks so fair,
Then vainly strive
again their naked arms to hide,
For their shrinking necks again
Thus clasp'd and prostrate all, with their heads together bow'd,
Soft o'er their bosom's beating--the only human
They hear the silky footsteps of the silent fairy
Like a river in the air, gliding round.
No scream can any raise, no prayer can any say,
wild, the terror of the speechless three--
For they feel fair Anna Grace
drawn silently away,
By whom they dare not look to see.
They feel their tresses twine with her parting locks of
And the curls elastic falling as her head withdraws;
feel her sliding arms from their tranced arms unfold,
may not look to see the cause:
For heavy on their senses the faint enchantment lies
all that night of anguish and perilous amaze;
And neither fear nor wonder can
ope their quivering eyes,
Or their limbs from the cold ground
Till out of night the earth has roll'd her dewy side,
every haunted mountain and streamy vale below;
When, as the mist dissolves in
the yellow morning tide,
The maidens' trance dissolveth go.
Then fly the ghastly three as swiftly as they may,
their tale of sorrow to anxious friends in vain--
They pined away and died
within the year and day,
And ne'er was Anna Grace seen again.