A Fairy Tale.

A poem by Henry Austin Dobson

"On court, hélas! après la vérité;
Ah! croyez-moi, l'erreur a son mérite."
Voltaire.


Curled in a maze of dolls and bricks,
I find Miss Mary, ætat six,
Blonde, blue-eyed, frank, capricious,
Absorbed in her first fairy book,
From which she scarce can pause to look,
Because it's "so delicious!"

"Such marvels, too. A wondrous Boat,
In which they cross a magic Moat,
That's smooth as glass to row on--
A Cat that brings all kinds of things;
And see, the Queen has angel wings--
Then OGRE comes"--and so on.

What trash it is! How sad to find
(Dear Moralist!) the childish mind,
So active and so pliant.
Rejecting themes in which you mix
Fond truths and pleasing facts, to fix
On tales of Dwarf and Giant!

In merest prudence men should teach
That cats mellifluous in speech
Are painful contradictions;
That science ranks as monstrous things
Two pairs of upper limbs; so wings--
E'en angels' wings!--are fictions:

That there's no giant now but Steam;
That life, although "an empty dream,"
Is scarce a "land of Fairy."
"Of course I said all this?" Why, no;
I did a thing far wiser, though,--
I read the tale with Mary.

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