O who can say what witching tones
The Elfin Harp can ring!
But O! — to play that Elfin Harp
It were no earthy thing!
For it was made in fair Elfland
With spell and grammary;
By sprites of air, of earth, and fire,
Who wrought it cunningly.
The Queen of Faery will’d it so,
And in her bow’r it hung,
And many an Elfin Lady there
To its soft music sung.
The Elfin Harper that on it play’d
Was full of mirth and glee
And oft in minstrel garb array’d
Join’d mortals’ revelry.
By Merlin taught sweet Music’s art,
He sang of Tristram bold,
And of Sir Launcelot du Lake
The wondrous tale he told.
The knights who sat at Arthur’s board
Each one he knew full well;
And all the stories of their loves
Right dextrously could tell.
’Twas he who to King Arthur’s court
The tell-tale Mantle bore
Which ev’ry faulty dame betray’d,
But Craddock’s Lady wore.
’Twas he who charm’d the Ouphs and Fays
The livelong summer’s night,
Till suddenly the royal grace
Was turn’d on mortal wight.
Oh! had you seen our fairy court
All carpeted with green,
And in the ’midst a violet bank
Where sat our lovely Queen!
High on each side her fragrant seat
Two stately lilies grew
And on each silver flow’r there hung
A drop of trembling dew.
A ring of sparkling glow-worms shed
Soft lustre through the bow’r,
And lovely female Fays were seen
To peep from ev’ry flow’r.
Before the throne this crystal harp
The Elfin Minstrel play’d,
While Philomela ceas’d her lay
To listen in the glade.
Oh! Thomas true of Ercildowne!
How great was then thy skill
The Laureat’s seat in Elfinland
To be thy hap to fill!
But jealous of a rival’s pow’r,
Our angry Minstrel grew;
And far away from fairy-bow’r,
The Elfin Harper flew.
But Ettrick’s bards have heard his song
By Ettrick’s silver stream,
While tiny Elves in mirthful throng
Inspir’d the shepherd’s dream.
And now to Stella’s service bound
Its chords light Sylphs obey,
And while they guard the sacred ground
In mystic circles play.
But none in poesy unskill’d
Can hear the magic strain;
And none but he untrue to love
Will break this Harp in twain!
(Fairy of the Grott.)