Menella Bute Smedley

Granmamma And The Fairies

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In the pattern of the curtains
Upon Grandmamma's bed,
You may see the parks where fairies
Their nightly measures tread.
The white parts are their gravel walks,
Where freely they advance;
The green parts are the careful lawns,
Where they may only dance.
All the walks go winding,
And twisting in and out,
Where the little cheerful creatures
Wander and play about.
And two or three, more bold than wise,
Behind the pillow peep,
And whisper to their waiting friends
That Grandmamma's asleep.
Then they begin to rustle
Among the falling folds;
And some of them are singing,
And some have coughs and colds;
And some have little castanets,
And some have little drums;
And some (who fly) will stop and perch
On Grandmamma's thumbs.
Grandmamma grows restless,
And turns upon the bed;
She thinks she has been waken'd
By noises in her head.
And many a little threat of cramp
Across her frame she feels;
And many a small rheumatic pinch
About her hands and heels.
Grandmamma grows plaintive:
When she was young, she says,
The long soft nights of slumber
Were pleasant as the days;
The steepest mountain in the world
Seem'd but a sunny slope;
And if the fairies talked at all,
They only talk'd of hope.
She'll tell us all at breakfast
She had a wretched night;
The furniture was creaking,
The pillows were not right.
With bolted door and windows wedged,
The care was all in vain;
For there were noises in her room
Which nothing can explain.
Then all suggest a reason:
Miss Grey alludes to gnats,
Aunt Hetty talks of robbers,
And Uncle James of rats.
Papa says, “Girls will brush their hair,
Such chattering little folks!”
Mamma says, “George was sitting up:
You know how hard he smokes!”
But no one seems to notice,
While thus they fuss and guess,
A little whiff of laughter
Among the water-cress.
A fairy spy is station'd there,
Commission'd to record,
In a very short-hand summary,
Each blundering human word.
If Grandmamma is clever,
When next the curtains shake,
She'll take her chance of fairies,
And tell them she's awake.
She'll let them see she knows their tricks,
And that they're far too late
To take a fine old lady in,
Who's turn'd of seventy-eight.
A little show of spirit
Would bring them to their knees—
Would make them full of service,
Where now they only tease.
And then they might bring back again
That sweet time pass'd away,
When every night was full of sleep,
Of pleasure every day.
That village shop, they'll show her,
Under the chestnut shade,
With the glorious sugar-candy,
Which is no longer made;
With the sheets of fine stage-characters,
And the scissors with no points,
And those delightful wooden dolls,
With pegs in all their joints:
That field with lofty hedges;
That elm-tree with a crest,
Where a blackbird sat so often,
She knows it had a nest;
And where she found the primroses
So early in the year;
And where she thinks she saw a snake
When nobody was near:
That garden with the peaches
Train'd on the old red wall;
The scent of that first myrtle
She pluck'd for her first ball;
And where she found a bouquet once—
Such fragrance and such tints!
I think it came from Grandpapa:
But that she never hints.
She'll tell us all at breakfast
She had a lovely night;
And Grandpapa will whisper,
Because she looks so bright,
“You'll never match those eyes, my dears”
(He said this once, you know);
“They're even finer than they were—
Ah, sixty years ago.”

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Menella Bute Smedley