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To skim the heavens and follow far
The fiery trail of the rocket-star.


The moth-fly, as he shot in air,
Crept under the leaf and hid her there;
The katydid forgot its lay,
The prowling gnat fled fast away,
The fell mosquito 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 bows were tightly drawn,
And the needle-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.


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,

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.


His wings are wet around his breast,
The plume hangs dripping from his crest,
His eyes are blurred by the lightning's glare,
And his ears are stunned with the thunder's blare,
But he gave a shout, and his blade he drew,

He thrust before and he struck behind,
Till he pierced their cloudy bodies through,

And gashed their shadowy limbs of wind; Howling the misty specters flew,

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

And the land of clouds beneath him lies.


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.
Oh! 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 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 light;
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.


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. Her face was like the lily roon

That veils the vestal planet's hue; Her eyes, two beamlets from the moon,

Set floating in the welkin blue. Her hair is like the sunny beam, And the diamond gems which round it gleam Are the pure drops of dewy even That ne'er have left their native heaven.


She raised her eyes to the wondering sprite,

And they leaped with smiles, for well I ween Never before in the bowers of light

Had the form of an earthly Fay been seen. Long she looked in his tiny face;

Long with his butterfly cloak she played ;
She smoothed his wings of azure lace,

And handled the tassel of his blade;
And as he told in accents low
The story of his love and woe,
She felt new pains in her bosom rise,
And the tear-drop started in her eyes.
And “O, sweet sprite of earth,” she cried,

“ Return no more to your woodland height, But ever here with me abide

In the land of everlasting light! Within the fleecy drift we'll lie,

We'll hang upon the rainbow's rim; And all the jewels of the sky

Around thy brow shall brightly beam !

And thou shalt bathe thee in the stream

That rolls its whitening foam aboon, And ride upon the lightning's gleam,

And dance upon the orbèd moon! We'll sit upon the Pleiad ring,

We'll rest on Orion's starry belt, And I will bid my sylphs to sing

The song that makes the dew-mist melt; Their harps are of the umber shade,

That hides the blush of waking day, And every gleaming string is made

Of silvery moonshine's lengthened ray; And thou shalt pillow on my breast,

While heavenly breathings float around, And, with the sylphs of ether blest,

Forget the joys of fairy ground.”


She was lovely and fair to see,
And the elfin's heart beat fitfully;
But lovelier far and still more fair,
The earthly form imprinted there;
Naught he saw in the heavens above
Was half so dear as his mortal love,
For he thought upon her look so meek,
And he thought of the light flush on her cheek;
Never again might he bask and lie
On that sweet cheek and moonlight eye,
But in his dreams her form to see,
To clasp her in his revery,
To think upon his virgin bride,
Was worth all heaven, and earth beside.


“Lady,” he cried, “I have sworn to-night, On the word of a fairy knight,

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