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Why did you make his glory high
And spangled like a stretch of sky?
Oh, this must be a land you knew
In dreams all lovely and untrue;
And of the king I heard you say
He lives a million years away
And holds the river in his hand
Between its ribbons of bright sand
Till suddenly he lets it fall
Down like a laughter musical!
There must be fairy miners
Just underneath the mould,
Such wondrous quaint designers
Who live in caves of gold.
They take the shining metals,
And beat them into shreds;
And mould them into petals,
To make the flowers' heads.
Sometimes they melt the flowers,
To tiny seeds like pearls,
And store them up in bowers
For little boys and girls.
And still a tiny fan turns
Above a forge of gold;
To keep with fairy lanterns,
The world from growing old.
(From Romeo and Juliet)
BY WILLIAM SHAKESPEARE
She is the fairies' midwife, and she comes
In shape no bigger than an agate-stone
On the fore-finger of an alderman,
Drawn with a team of little atomies
Athwart men's noses as they lie asleep;
Her waggon-spokes made of long spinners' legs,
The cover of the wings of grasshoppers,
The traces of the smallest spider's web,
The collars of the moonshine's watery beams,
Her whip of cricket's bone, the lash of film,
Her waggoner a small grey-coated gnat,
Not half so big as a round little worm
Prick'd from the lazy finger of a maid;
Her chariot is an empty hazel-nut
Made by the joiner squirrel or old grub,
Time out of mind the fairies' coachmakers.
THE OLD SHIPS
BY JAMES ELROY FLECKER
I have seen old ships sail like swans asleep Beyond the village which men still call Tyre,
With leaden age o'ercargoed, dipping deep
For Famagusta and the hidden sun
That rings black Cyprus with a lake of fire;
And all those ships were certainly so old
Who knows how oft with squat and noisy gun,
Questing brown slaves or Syrian oranges,
The pirate Genoese
Hell-raked them till they rolled
Blood, water, fruit, and corpses up the hold.
But now through friendly seas they softly run,
Painted the mid-sea blue or shore-sea green,
Still patterned with the vine and grapes in gold.
Pointing her shapely shadows from the dawn
And image tumbled on a rose-swept bay,
A drowsy ship of some yet older day;
And, wonder's breath indrawn,
Thought I who knows-who knows-but that same (Fished up beyond Eæa, patched up new
-Stern painted brighter blue-)
That talkative, bald-headed seaman came
(Twelve patient comrades sweating at the oar)
From Troy's doom-crimson shore,
And with great lies about his wooden horse
Set the crew laughing, and forgot his course.
It was so old a ship-who knows-who knows?
-And yet so beautiful, I watched in vain
To see the mast burst open with a rose,
And the whole deck put on its leaves again.
After the whipping, he crawled into bed;
Accepting the harsh fact with no great weeping.
How funny uncle's hat had looked striped red!
He chuckled silently. The moon came, sweeping
A black frayed rag of tattered cloud before.
In scorning; very pure and pale she seemed,
Flooding his bed with radiance. On the floor
Fat motes danced. He sobbed; closed his eyes and dreamed.
Warm sand flowed round him. Blurts of crimson light
Splashed the white grains like blood. Past the cave's mouth
Shone with a large fierce splendor, wildly bright,
The crooked constellations of the South;
Here the Cross swung; and there, affronting Mars,
The Centaur stormed aside a froth of stars.
Within, great casks like wattled aldermen
Sighed of enormous feasts, and cloth of gold
Glowed on the walls like hot desire. Again,
Beside webbed purples from some galleon's hold,
A black chest bore the skull and bones in white.
Above a scrawled "Gunpowder!" By the flames,
Decked out in crimson, gemmed with syenite,
Hailing their fellows by outrageous names
The pirates sat and diced. Their eyes were moons. "Doubloons!" they said. The words crashed gold. "Doubloons!"
I flung my soul to the air like a falcon flying.
I said, "Wait on, wait on, while I ride below!
I shall start a heron soon
In the marsh beneath the moon
A strange white heron rising with silver on its wings, Rising and crying
Wordless, wondrous things;
The secret of the stars, of the world's heart-strings The answer to their woc.
Then stoop thou upon him, and grip and hold him so!"
My wild soul waited on as falcons hover.
I beat the reedy fens as I trampled past.
I heard the mournful loon
In the marsh beneath the moon.
And then, with feathery thunder, the bird of my desire Broke from the cover
High up among the stars I saw his pinions spire.
The pale clouds gazed aghast
As my falcon stooped upon him, and gript and held him fast.