Scottish Poetry Selection
- The Fairy Dance

The poem below is by Carolina Eliza Scott (1777-1853), better known by her married name of Mrs G. G. Richardson. She was born at Forge in the parish of Canonbie near Langholm in Dumfries and Galloway, the daughter of a wealthy landowner. While living with an uncle in Madras, India, she met and married Gilbert Geddes Richardson, a captain in the British East India Company. She was greatly admired in the refined society of Anglo-India but when her husband died in the prime of life, she returned to her childhood home with her five children. She published a volume of her poetry in 1828 which wa susccessful enough for her to produce a second volume of poem and later a novel and essays.

Initially, "The Fairy Dance" seems a light-hearted piece - but finishes with some more thoughtful words on illusions and reality.


            The Fairy Dance

The fairies are dancing how nimbly they bound!
   They flit o'er the grass tops, they touch not the ground;
Their kirtles of green are with diamonds bedight,
   All glittering and sparkling beneath the moonlight.

Hark, hark to their music! how silvery and clear
   'Tis surely the flower-bells that ringing I hear,
The lazy-wing'd moth, with the grasshopper wakes,
   And the field-mouse peeps out, and their revels partakes.

How featly they trip it! how happy are they
   Who pass all their moments in frolic and play,
Who rove where they list, without sorrows or cares,
   And laugh at the fetters mortality wears!

But where have they vanish'd? a cloud 's o'er the moon,
   I'll hie to the spot, they'll be seen again soon
I hasten 'tis lighter, and what do I view?
   The fairies were grasses, the diamonds were dew.

And thus do the sparkling illusions of youth
   Deceive and allure, and we take them for truth;
Too happy are they who the juggle unshroud,
   Ere the hint to inspect them be brought by a cloud.

Meaning of unusual words:
kirtles = dress, gown
bedight = adorned
featly = cleverly, smartly
list = choose

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