The Lepracaun Or Fairy Shoemaker – Poem by William Allingham

In honor of St. Patrick’s Day I am sharing some of my Irish writing roots. William Allingham, born in Ballyshannon was an Irish poet and editor, who rubbed elbows with some of the famous British writers of his day. You can’t knock a guy who writes poems about fairies.

 

Little Cowboy, what have you heard,
Up on the lonely rath’s green mound? William_Allingham_Photo
Only the plaintive yellow bird
Sighing in sultry fields around,
Chary, chary, chary, chee-ee! –
Only the grasshopper and the bee? –
‘Tip-tap, rip-rap,
Tick-a-tack-too!
Scarlet leather, sewn together,
This will make a shoe.
Left, right, pull it tight;
Summer days are warm;
Underground in winter,
Laughing at the storm! ‘
Lay your ear close to the hill.
Do you not catch th etiny clamour,
Busy click of an elfin hammer.
Voice of the Lepracaun singing shrill
As he merrily plies his trade?
He’s a span
And a quarter in height,
Get him in sight, hold him tight,
And you’re a made
Man!

You watch your cattle the summerday,
Sup on potatoes, sleep in the hay;
how would you like to roll in your carriage,
Look for a duchess’s daughter in marriage?
Seize the shoemaker – then you may!
‘Big boots a -hunting,
Sandals in the hall,
White for a wedding feast,
Pink for a ball.
This way, that way,
So we makea shoe;
Getting rich every stitch,
Tick-a-tack too! ‘
Nine and ninety treasure crocks
This keen miser fairy hath,
Hid in the mountains, woods and rocks,
Ruin and round-tow’r, cave and rath,
And where cormorants build;
From times of old
Guarded by him;
Each of them fill’d
Full to the brim
With gold!

I caught him at work one day, myself,
In the castle ditch where fox-glove grows, –
A wrinkled, wizen’d and bearded Elf,
Spectacles stuck on his pointed nose,
Silver buckles to his hose,
Leather apron – shoe in his lap –
‘Rip-rap, tip-tap,
Tick-tack-too!
(A grasshopper on my cap!
Away the moth flew!)
Buskins for a fairy prince,
Brogues for his son –
Pay me well, pay me well,
When the job is done! ‘
The rogue was mine, beyond a doubt.
I stared at him, he stared at me;
‘Servant Sir! ‘ ‘Humph’ says he,
And pull’d a snuff-box out.
He took a long pinch, look’d better pleased,
The queer little Lepracaun;
Offer’d the box with a whimsical grace, –
Pouf! He flung the dust in my face,
And while I sneezed,
Was gone!

-William Allingham

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