William Allingham

(19 March 1824 – 18 November 1889 / Donegal / Ireland)

The Fairies


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!

Submitted: Tuesday, December 31, 2002
Edited: Friday, June 29, 2012

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  • Carol Maydew (3/26/2013 2:45:00 PM)

    This takes me back to my Junior school days when the teacher taught the poem in the form of a song. The first verse sometimes seems to grab hold of my mind and goes round and round in my head. (Report) Reply

  • Scott Doty (4/12/2007 3:59:00 PM)

    This has always been one of my favorites! ! Willy Wonka fans may know the first few lines :) (Report) Reply

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