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THE CULPRIT FAY.

37

His shield was the shell of a lady-bug queen,
Studs of gold on a ground of green;
And the quivering lance which he brandished bright,
Was the sting of a wasp he had slain in fight.

Swift he bestrode his firefly steed;
He bared his blade of the bent grass blue ;
He drove his spurs of the cockle-seed,

And away like a glance of thought he flew,
To skim the heavens and follow far
The fiery trail of the rocket-star.

XXVI.

The moth-fly, as he shot in air,
Crept under the leaf, and hid her there;
The katy-did forgot its lay,
The prowling gnat fled fast away,
The fell moscheto checked his drone
And folded his wings till the Fay was gone,
And the wily beetle dropped his head,
And fell on the ground as if he were dead;
They crouched them close in the darksome shade,

They quaked all o'er with awe and fear,
For they had felt the blue-bent blade,

And writhed at the prick of the elfin spear;
Many a time on a summer's night,
When the sky was clear, and the moon was bright,

They had been roused from the haunted ground,
By the yelp and bay of the fairy hound;
They had heard the tiny bugle-horn,
They had heard the twang of the maize-silk string,
When the vine-twig boughs were tightly drawn,
And the nettle shaft through air was borne,
Feathered with down of the hum-bird's wing.
And now they deemed the courier ouphe,

Some hunter sprite of the elfin ground;
And they watched till they saw him mount the roof

That canopies the world around; Then glad they left their covert lair, And freaked about in the midnight air.

XXVII.

Up to the vaulted firmament
His path the firefly courser bent,
And at every gallop on the wind,
He flung a glittering spark behind;
He flies like a feather in the blast
Till the first light cloud in heaven is past,

But the shapes of air have begun their work,
And a drizzly mist is round him cast,

He cannot see through the mantle murk, He shivers with cold, but he urges fast,

Through storm and darkness, sleet and shade, He lashes his steed and spurs amain,

THE CULPRIT FAY.

39

39

For shadowy hands have twitched the rein,

And flame-shot tongues around him played,
And near him many a fiendish eye
Glared with a fell malignity,
And yells of rage, and shrieks of fear,
Came screaming on his startled ear.

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Howling the misty spectres flew,

They rend the air with frightful cries, For he has gained the welkin blue,

And the land of clouds beneath him lies

XXIX.

Up to the cope careering swift

In breathless motion fast,
Fleet as the swallow cuts the drift,

Or the sea-roc rides the blast,
The sapphire sheet of eve is shot,

The sphered moon is past, The earth but seems a tiny blot

On a sheet of azure cast. 0! it was sweet in the clear moonlight,

To tread the starry plain of even, To meet the thousand eyes of night,

And feel the cooling breath of heaven; But the Elfin made no stop or stay Till he came to the bank of the milky-way, Then he checked his courser's foot, And watched for the glimpse of the planet-shoot.

XXX.

Sudden along the snowy tide

That swelled to meet their footsteps' fall,

THE CULPRIT FAY.

41

The sylphs of heaven were seen to glide,

Attired in sunset's crimson pall; Around the Fay they weave the dance,

They skip before him on the plain, And one has taken his wasp-sting lance,

And one upholds his bridle rein; With warblings wild they lead him on

To where through clouds of amber seen,
Studded with stars, resplendent shone

The palace of the sylphid queen.
Its spiral columns gleaming bright
Were streamers of the northern lignt;
Its curtain's light and lovely flush
Was of the morning's rosy blush,
And the ceiling fair that rose aboon
The white and feathery fleece of noon.

XXXI.

But oh! how fair the shape that lay

Beneath a rainbow bending bright, She seemed to the entranced Fay

The loveliest of the forms of light; Her mantle was the purple rolled

At twilight in the west afar; 'Twas tied with threads of dawning gold,

And buttoned with a sparkling star.

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