On Midsummer Night

A poem by Madison Julius Cawein


All the poppies in their beds
Nodding crumpled crimson heads;
And the larkspurs, in whose ears
Twilight hangs, like twinkling tears,
Sleepy jewels of the rain;
All the violets, that strain
Eyes of amethystine gleam;
And the clover-blooms that dream
With pink baby fists closed tight,
They can hear upon this night,
Noiseless as the moon's white light,
Footsteps and the glimmering flight,
Shimmering flight,
Of the Fairies


Every sturdy four-o'clock,
In its variegated frock;
Every slender sweet-pea, too,
In its hood of pearly hue;
Every primrose pale that dozes
By the wall and slow uncloses
A sweet mouth of dewy dawn
In a little silken yawn,
On this night of silvery sheen,
They can see the Fairy Queen,
On her palfrey white, I ween,
Tread dim cirques of haunted green,
Moonlit green,
With her Fairies.


Never a foxglove bell, you see,
That's a cradle for a bee;
Never a lily, that 's a house
Where the butterfly may drowse;
Never a rosebud or a blossom,
That unfolds its honeyed bosom
To the moth, that nestles deep
And there sucks itself to sleep,
But can hear and also see,
On this night of witchery,
All that world of Faery,
All that world where airily,
Dance the Fairies.


It was last Midsummer Night,
In the moon's uncertain light,
That I stood among the flowers,
And in language unlike ours
Heard them speaking of the Pixies,
Trolls and Gnomes and Water-Nixies;
How in this flow'r's ear a Fay
Hung a gem of rainy ray;
And 'round that flow'r's throat had set
Dim a dewdrop carcanet;
Then among the mignonette
Stretched a cobweb-hammock wet,
Dewy wet,
For the Fairies.


Long I watched; but never a one,
Ariel, Puck, or Oberon,
Mab or Queen Titania
Fairest of them all they say
Clad in morning-glory hues,
Did I glimpse among the dews.
Only once I thought the torch
Of that elfin-rogue and arch,
Robin Goodfellow, afar
Flashed along a woodland bar
Bright, a jack-o'-lantern star,
A green lamp of firefly spar,
Glow-worm spar,
Loved of Fairies.

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