Fairies

A poem by Madison Julius Cawein

There's a little fairy who
Peeps from every drop of dew:
You can see him wink and shine
On the morning-glory vine,
Mischief in his eye of blue.
There's another fairy that
Rides upon the smallest gnat:
You can hear him tremolo
When the summer dusk falls slow,
Circling just above your hat.
And another one that sways
In the golden slanted rays
Of the sunlight where it floats:
Prosy people call them motes,
But they're fairies, father says.
But there's one that no one sees,
Only, maybe, moths and bees;
Who in lofts, where knot-holes are,
On the thin light of a star
Slides through crannied crevices.
You may hear him sigh and sing
Near a May-fly's captured wing
In a spider-web close by:
See him with a moonbeam pry
Moonflowers open where they swing.
Down the garden-ways he goes
On a beetle's back, and blows
Sullen music from a horn:
Or you'll hear him when 't is morn
Buzzing bee-like by a rose.
And it's he who, when 't is night,
Twinkles with a firefly light;
Shakes a katydid tambourine;
Or amid the mossy green
Rasps his cricket-fiddle tight.
He it is who heaves the dome
Of the mushroom through the loam,
Plumper than a baby's thumb:
Or who taps a tinder drum
In the dead wood's honeycomb.
He's that Robin Goodfellów,
Or that Puck who, long ago,
Used to marshlight-lead astray
People in old Shakespeare's day
That is, father told me so.
He's the one that, in the Fall,
Frisks the dead leaves round us all;
Herds them; drives them wildly past,
Dancing with them just as fast
As a boy can throw a ball.
Wonder what he looks like. Asked
Father once. He said he'd tasked
Mind and soul to find out, but
It was harder than a nut;
Just refused to be unmasked.
Though he thought, perhaps, he might
Find out some time, and delight
Telling me; but well he knew
He was like my questions, too,
Teasing and confusing quite.

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