The hour was midnight, & the scene,
A lovely dew bespangled green;
High from the vaulted heavens, the queen of night
O’er the wide plains diffused her gentle light,
The air was calm, for scarce the whisp’ring breeze
Was heard to murmur through the young leaf’d trees
’Twas fairy noontide and the lov’d resort
Of Royal Mab, & all her elfin court;
A throng of tiny spirits compos’d her train
Who frisk’d & gambol’d on the velvet plain.
And now from mushroom top, her chosen place,
With look persuasive & commanding grace
The Fairy Queen for silence waved her hand
Then thus address’d the mute attentive band.
My faithful elves, to-night I ask your aid
In forming for my dear poetic maid
A blooming chaplet wreathed of choicest flow’rs
Cull’d by each fairy hand from Flora’s sweetest bowers,
That when Apollo’s beams her eyes unclose,
She pleased may fix them on the year’s first rose;
A gentle murmur ran the crowd among
And then these duteous words they sweet sung
“Now swiftly, swiftly let us fly
On duty’s silken pinions,
For ev’ry sweet beneath the sky,
For flow’ret low & blossom high
We’ll in ev’ry thicket pry,
Through Flora’s sweet dominions;
Ev’ry fay will bring a flower
And return within an hour.”
And now appear the fairy train
Like blossoms scatter’d o’er the plain
Advancing gay the sportive band,
With each a flow’ret in her hand,
Around the queen, in circle gay,
They trip & sing a roundalay,
While as they dance in Cynthia’s beam,
An animated wreath they seem.
Their gambols o’er, the beauteous sprite,
Calls for the order of the night.
“You sports awhile,” she cries “forbear,
And hast the garland to prepare.
Now my fains quaint & fine,
Weave the wreath, the chaplet twine,
And interlace their slender stems,
To form a crown of nature’s gems.”
1st Fairy: The primrose Fairy Queen I bear,
Eldest Daughter of the Year.
Queen: Sweet flow’r welcome take thy place
Emblem meet of youthful grace.
2nd Fairy: I the purple violet bring,
Sweetest produce of the spring.
Queen: And the type of modest worth,
Oft o’erlook’d by sons of Earth.
3rd Fairy: Half conceal’d in grassy bed,
Bending low her pensive head,
The gentle snowdrop I descry’d,
Methought she was the vi’lets bride.
4th Fairy: I down in yonder dell espied,
This pretty thing a brook beside.
Queen: The lily of the valley named
And for its simple beauty fam’d.
5th Fairy: I the chaplet to adorn,
Snatch’d this blossom from the thorn.
Queen: Pretty blossom, May’s sweet child,
Nurs’d amid the woodlands wild.
6th Fairy: This starlike form of scent divine,
Is call’d by mortals, Jassamine.
Queen: Its dark green foliage pearly flowers,
Declare it fit for fairy bowers.
Queen: Whence comest thou, with flow’r so tall?
7th Fairy: Oh Queen I’ve been to stately hall,
And pluck’d the finest flow’r of all.
Queen: The crown imperial simple elf,
Nay keep the gaudy thing yourself,
A choice so vain your folly tells,
E’en wear it for a cap & bells.
Impatient now the little troop,
Press forward in a fragrant group,
Each blooming beauty seems to try,
Which first shall catch the maiden’s eye.
Here hyacinths & woodbine sweet,
With pinks & humble daisies meet,
Here the auriculas in dozens,
Find polyanthuses their country cousins.
All that are fragrant, fair or gay,
Are met as on a holiday.
The Queen delighted with their beauty
And with her subjects eager duty,
Well pleased to show her approbation,
Gave every flower its proper station;
For Mab has taste, & genius too,
And knows to place the red, and blue,
And how with many a varied leaf,
To give each tint its due relief.
“And now my friends do not suppose
Your Queen’s been idle here’s a rose,
Loveliest flow’r in summer’s train
The gardens blushing sovereign!
Her sister too with fairer face,
Shall help our coronet to grace.
But see the night is almost gone,
And now our fairy work is done,
Around it in a frolic ring,
We’ll trip it & our wishes sing.
Long may heavens choicest treasures,
Peaceful joys & virtuous pleasures,
Bless her days & gild her flowers,
All her paths be strew’d with flow’rs,
May those flow’rs that never die,
Crown her with their radiancy.
May the sweet rose of health be thine,
With innocence that lily fair.
And then to guard her brow serene,
Entwine it with the olive green.
May she in her virtues shine
Like a creature half divine,
And when her mortal race is run,
Like the glorious setting sun,
As he emerges from the main,
So shall she, beauteous, rise again!
May 1st 1810