Eeksy-Peeksy

augury doggerel

Friday, December 26, 2003

Bubbles

I almost wrote this last summer, then last month, but I never get round to it. Maybe now.

The last time I was home, this past summer, I was reading through a poetry anthology. William Allingham's The Fairies reminded me of my mother laughing about how my father, when he was a boy at school, got into trouble for being unable to recite The Fairies. It was funny to her back then, before her memory started to go, before she forgot all of us.

I took the book to the side of my father's bed, a borrowed hospital bed where he was breathing on a borrowed oxygen machine and could barely lift his tea, and I tried the first line of the poem on him. Without missing a beat, he recited the rest of the first stanza, then ran out of breath and stopped. I don't know how much he remembered. We were interrupted just after.

Maybe there's nothing in this after all, but I felt like writing it. Anyway, here is Allingham's poem, in case you don't remember it.


Up the airy mountain,
Down the rushy glen,
We daren't go a-hunting
For fear of little men;
Wee folk, good folk,
Trooping all together;
Green jacket, red cap,
And white owl's feather!

Down along the rocky shore
Some make their home,
They live on crispy pancakes
Of yellow tide-foam;
Some in the reeds
Of the black mountain lake,
With frogs for their watch-dogs,
All night awake.

High on the hill-top
The old King sits;
He is now so old and gray
He 's nigh lost his wits.
With a bridge of white mist
Columbkill he crosses,
On his stately journeys
From Slieveleague to Rosses;
Or going up with music
On cold starry nights
To sup with the Queen
Of the gay Northern Lights.

They stole little Bridget
For seven years long;
When she came down again
Her friends were all gone.
They took her lightly back,
Between the night and morrow,
They thought that she was fast asleep,
But she was dead with sorrow.
They have kept her ever since
Deep within the lake,
On a bed of flag-leaves,
Watching till she wake.

By the craggy hill-side,
Through the mosses bare,
They have planted thorn-trees
For pleasure here and there.
If any man so daring
As dig them up in spite,
He shall find their sharpest thorns
In his bed at night.

Up the airy mountain,
Down the rushy glen,
We daren't go a-hunting
For fear of little men;
Wee folk, good folk,
Trooping all together;
Green jacket, red cap,
And white owl's feather!

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