John McCullagh January 9, 2004
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I will, as I promised, soon return to our analysis of ‘steps’ (of 100Ma!) in Earth’s history.  I’m afraid however that, while strolling in Narrow Water Quarry, I was taken with a compulsion to walk once again through the Fairy Glen.  So I did!  And thought of William Allingham’s poem, beloved of our childhood and school days.  You remember it!

The Fairies

Up the airy mountain
Down the rushing glen
We daren’t go a-hunting
For fear of little men;
Wee folk, good folk
Trooping all together
Green jacket, red cap
And white owl’s feather.

Down along the rocky shore
Some make their home
They live on crispy pancakes
Of yellow tide-foam;
Some in the reeds
Of the black mountain lake
With frogs for their watch-dogs
All night awake.

High on the hill-top
The old King rests
He is now so old and grey
He’s nigh lost his wits;
With a bridge of white mist
Columcille he crosses
On his stately journeys
From Slieve League to Rosses;
Or going up with music
On cold starry nights
To sup with the Queen
Of the gay Northern Lights.

They stole little Bridget
For seven years long
When she came down again
Her friends were all gone
They took her lightly back
Between the night and morrow
They thought that she was fast asleep
But she was dead with sorrow.
They have kept her ever since
Deep within the lake
On a bed of flag-leaves
Watching till she wakes.

By the craggy hillside
Through the mosses bare
They have planted thorn-trees
For pleasure here and there.
Is any man so daring
As dig them up in spite
He shall find their sharpest thorns
In his bed at night.

Up the airy mountain
Down the rushy glen
We daren’t go a-hunting
For fear of little men
Wee folk, good folk
Trooping all together
Green jacket, red cap
And white owl’s feather!

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