Sunday 11 December 2011

The Fairies' Farewell


The Fairies' Farewell

One of my very favourite poems and also a lament for Catholic England. I thought this was a widely known anthology piece but even Amanda Craig did not know it. Nothing is well known anymore he humphed.

FAREWELL, rewards and fairies, 
Good housewives now may say, 
For now foul sluts in dairies 
Do fare as well as they. 
And though they sweep their hearths no less 
Than maids were wont to do, 
Yet who of late for cleanness 
Finds sixpence in her shoe? 

Lament, lament, old Abbeys, 
The Fairies’ lost command! 
They did but change Priests’ babies, 
But some have changed your land. 
And all your children, sprung from thence, 
Are now grown Puritans, 
Who live as Changelings ever since 
For love of your demains. 

At morning and at evening both 
You merry were and glad, 
So little care of sleep or sloth 
These pretty ladies had; 
When Tom came home from labour, 
Or Cis to milking rose, 
Then merrily went their tabor, 
And nimbly went their toes. 

Witness those rings and roundelays 
Of theirs, which yet remain, 
Were footed in Queen Mary’s days 
On many a grassy plain; 
But since of late, Elizabeth, 
And later, James came in, 
They never danced on any heath 
As when the time hath been. 

By which we note the Fairies 
Were of the old Profession. 
Their songs were ‘Ave Mary’s’, 
Their dances were Procession. 
But now, alas, they all are dead; 
Or gone beyond the seas; 
Or farther for Religion fled; 
Or else they take their ease. 

A tell-tale in their company 
They never could endure! 
And whoso kept not secretly 
Their mirth, was punished, sure; 
It was a just and Christian deed 
To pinch such black and blue. 
Oh how the commonwealth doth want 
Such Justices as you!
One of my very favourite poems and in
Richard Corbet

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