When in the pansy-purpled stain
Of sunset one far star is seen,
Like some bright drop of rain,
Out of the forest, deep and green,
O'er me at Spirit seems to lean,
The fairest of her train.
The Spirit, dowered with fadeless youth,
Of Lay and Legend, young as when,
Close to her side, in sooth,
She led me from the marts of men,
A child, into her world, which then
To me was true as truth.
Her hair is like the silken husk
That holds the corn, and glints and glows;
Her brow is white as tusk;
Her body like a wilding rose,
And through her gossamer raiment shows
Like starlight closed in musk.
She smiles at me; she nods at me;
And by her looks I am beguiled
Into the mystery
Of ways I knew when, as a child,
She led me 'mid her blossoms wild
Of faery fantasy.
The blossoms that, when night is here,
Become sweet mouths that sigh soft tales;
Or, each, a jewelled ear
Leaned to the elfin dance that trails
Down moonrayed cirques of haunted vales
To cricket song and cheer.
The blossoms that, shut fast all day,
Primrose and poppy, darkness opes,
Slowly, to free a fay,
Who, silken-soft, leaps forth and ropes
With rain each web that, starlit, slopes
Between each grassy spray.
The blossoms from which elves are born,
Sweet wombs of mingled scent and snow,
Whose deeps are cool as morn;
Wherein I oft have heard them blow
Their pixy trumpets, silvery low
As some bee's drowsy horn.
So was it when my childhood roamed
The woodland's dim enchanted ground,
Where every mushroom domed
Its disc for them to revel 'round;
Each glow-worm forged its flame, green drowned
In hollow snow that foamed
Of lilies, for their lantern light,
To lamp their dance beneath the moon;
Each insect of the night,
That rasped its thin, vibrating tune,
And owl that raised its sleepy croon,
Made music for their flight.
So is it still when twilight fills
My soul with childhood's memories
That haunt the far-off hills,
And people with dim things the trees,
With faery forms that no man sees,
And dreams that no man kills.
Then all around me sway and swing
The Puck-lights of their firefly train,
Their elfin revelling;
And in the bursting pods, that rain
Their seeds around my steps, again
I hear their footsteps ring;
Their faery feet that fall once more
Within my way; and then I see,
As oft I saw before,
Her Spirit rise, who shimmeringly
Fills all my world with poetry,
The Loveliness of Yore.