Toadstools

A poem by Madison Julius Cawein

I.

Once when it had rained all night
And all day, the next day, why,
In our yard, a lot of white,
Dumpy toadstools grew close by
Our old peach tree: some were high,
Peak'd, like half-shut parasols;
Others round and low, like balls,
Little hollow balls; and I
Called my father to the tree:
And he said, "I tell you what:
Fairies have been here, you see.
This is just the kind of spot
Fairies love to live in. Those
Are their houses, I suppose.

II.

"Yes, those surely are their huts!
Built of moon and mist and rain,
Such dim stuff as Elfland puts
In her buildings. Come again,
And, like castles built in Spain,
They are nowhere. But to-night,
Sliding down the moon's slim light,
Or snail-straddled, in a train
You may see the elves, perhaps,
Clad in gossamer garments, come;
Some in morning-glory caps,
And in tulip bonnets some.
If you watch, I have no doubt,
You will see them all come out.

III.

"Long of leg as grasshoppers,
Or as katydids, oh, ho!
Here they'll sit; the bachelors
By the spinsters, row on row,
Kissing when the moon is low:
You may hear their kisses sound
Faint as raindrops on the ground,
Dropped by flow'rs that overflow,
Flow'rs whose heads the rain weighs down.
Or, perhaps, to twinkling tunes,
Tiny as their tiny town,
See them dance wild rigadoons
Creaked by crickets; singing, too,
Serenades as thin as dew.

IV.

"Or hobgoblins here may rise,
Snail-faced, spider-legged, you see;
Eyed with glowworm-glowing eyes,
Lidless slits of flame. . Maybe,
Gnarled of back and knobbed of knee,
Tadpole-paunched, you'll see the gnomes
Waddle from their toadstool homes;
While the frogs industriously
Twang their big bass-violins,
And the screech-owl's bagpipes shriek:
While their eyes, like points of pins,
Glitter, great-nosed beak to beak,
Here you'll see them squat and blink
Till it'd freeze your blood, I think." .... .

V.

Won't have any goblins here!
With their eyes like upright slits,
Parrot-nosed and flopped of ear,
And a grin that cracks and splits
Wide their faces, never quits,
Faces all one wart or wen!
So I got a stick and then
Knocked those toadstools into bits.
And my father said, "Well! well!
Now you've spoiled your only chance
It will never do to tell!
To behold the fairies dance,
And those grinning goblins, too.
Wonder what got into you!"

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