David Lewis Paget

(22.11.1944 / Nottingham, England/live in Australia)

The Well of the Water Sprite


His eyes were beginning to mist, I saw
When he told his final tale,
With the grandchildren all gathered round
And he with his pint of ale,
They sat, cross-legged, down on the floor,
Looked up at the old man’s eyes,
And hugged themselves, for the tale to come
Was always a sweet surprise.

His tales had often been joyful romps
Of elves that lived in the hedge,
When naughty goblins, drunk on the vine
Played tic-tac-toe in the sedge,
The scenes he conjured were children’s dreams
In a world long-lost to men,
But living on as a child’s sun shone
On a land called ‘Way back when.’

‘There once was a place called Elfin Grove
When I was little, like you,
I’d skip on over the farmer’s stile
To a meadow, covered in dew,
I’d follow the witch’s raggedy track
Through the mumbling pom-pom trees,
And wave to the branches as they waved back
And danced in the morning breeze.’

‘I’d pass by the fairy’s mushroom dell,
Then stop, and I’d tip my cap,
For often I’d hear the fairy queen
As she’d sit in the ring, and clap,
The hedgehogs ambled out of my way
As I called, ‘I’m coming through! ’
The badgers grumbled as I went by
For that’s what the badgers do.’

And then I would come to Elfin Grove
Where the beams of the sun shone bright,
The grass in there was greener than green
By the Well of the Water Sprite,
The water lay by a rocky ledge,
It rose from under the ground,
Cold as cold, it was crystal clear
And hidden behind a mound.

‘I thought that the well was there for me
So I cupped my hand, and drank,
Then I saw a girl was looking at me,
She said, ‘You have me to thank!
I draw that water out of the sky
And I mix it in with the dew,
Then filter it through the mountain banks
And it bubbles up here, for you.’

Her dress was covered in sequins, and
Her hair was down to her waist,
Her shoes were covered in spangles
And her bodice was tightly laced,
She held in her hand a willow wand
That she raised, and offered to me,
She said, ‘You’ll always find water
With a wand from the willow tree.’

I said, ‘I’ve not seen you here before, ’
She said, ‘I’m always around,
You have to drink of the water that
I bring from under the ground.
And this one, this is a magic well,
It’s hidden, and out of sight,
It can only be seen by the pure of heart,
The Well of the Water Sprite.’

‘I looked away and the sprite had gone,
She’d slipped down into the well,
I thought I must have imagined it
Caught up in a fairy’s spell,
I never saw her again out there
For soon I was turning ten,
And double figures are when we know
That boys are becoming men.’

The children went and I questioned him
When I’d tucked them all in bed,
‘Was ever a well like that out there? ’
He turned and nodded his head.
‘They built all over Elfin Grove,
Put factories on the site,
The water’s muddy, and now tastes foul,
And gone is the Water Sprite! ’

24 June 2013

Submitted: Sunday, June 23, 2013
Edited: Monday, June 24, 2013

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