The Palaces of the Sidhe

A poem by George William Russell

Two small sweet lives together
From dawn till the dew falls down,
They danced over rock and heather
Away from the dusty town.

Dark eyes like stars set in pansies,
Blue eyes like a hero's bold--
Their thoughts were all pearl-light fancies,
Their hearts in the age of gold.

They crooned o'er many a fable
And longed for the bright-capped elves,
The faery folk who are able
To make us faery ourselves.

A hush on the children stealing
They stood there hand in hand,
For the elfin chimes were pealing
Aloud in the underland.

And over the grey rock sliding,
A fiery colour ran,
And out of its thickness gliding
The twinkling mist of a man--

To-day for the children had fled to
An ancient yesterday,
And the rill from its tunnelled bed too
Had turned another way.

Then down through an open hollow
The old man led with a smile:
"Come, star-hearts, my children, follow
To the elfin land awhile."

The bells above them were hanging,
Whenever the earth-breath blew
It made them go clanging, clanging,
The vasty mountain through.

But louder yet than the ringing
Came the chant of the elfin choir,
Till the mountain was mad with singing
And dense with the forms of fire.

The kings of the faery races
Sat high on the thrones of might,
And infinite years from their faces
Looked out through eyes of light.

And one in a diamond splendour
Shone brightest of all that hour,
More lofty and pure and tender,
They called him the Flower of Power.

The palace walls were glowing
Like stars together drawn,
And a fountain of air was flowing
The primrose colour of dawn.

"Ah, see!" said Aileen sighing,
With a bend of her saddened head
Where a mighty hero was lying,
He looked like one who was dead.

"He will wake," said their guide, "'tis but seeming,
And, oh, what his eyes shall see
I will know of only in dreaming
Till I lie there still as he."

They chanted the song of waking,
They breathed on him with fire,
Till the hero-spirit outbreaking,
Shot radiant above the choir.

Like a pillar of opal glory
Lit through with many a gem--
"Why, look at him now," said Rory,
"He has turned to a faery like them!"

The elfin kings ascending
Leaped up from the thrones of might,
And one with another blending
They vanished in air and light.

The rill to its bed came splashing
With rocks on the top of that:
The children awoke with a flashing
Of wonder, "What were we at?"

They groped through the reeds and clover--
"What funny old markings: look here,
They have scrawled the rocks all over:
It's just where the door was: how queer!"

--September 15, 1896

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