The fairies have been busy while you slept;
They have been laughing where the sad rain wept,
They have taught Beauty to the ignorant flowers,
Set tasks of hope to weary wind-torn bowers,
And heard the lessons learned in school-rooms cold
By seedling snapdragon and marigold.
At dawn, while still you slept, I grew aware
How good the fairies are, how many and fair.
The fairy whose delightful gown is red
Across a corner of our garden sped,
And, where her flying raiment fluttered past,
Its roseate reflection still is cast:
Red poppies by the rhododendron's side,
Paeonies gorgeous in their summer pride,
And red may-bushes by the old red wall
Shower down their crimson petals over all.
Then she whose gown is gold, and gold her hair,
Swept down the golden steep straight sunbeam-stair,
She lit the tulip-lamps, she lit the torch
Of hollyhock beside the cottage porch.
She dressed the honeysuckle in fringe of gold,
She gave the king-cups fairy wealth to hold,
She kissed St. John's wort till it opened wide,
She set the yarrow by the river side.
Then came the lady all whose robes are white:
She made the pale buds blossom in delight,
Set silver stars upon the jasmine's hair,
And gave the stream white lily-buds to wear.
She painted lilies white, and pearl-white phlox,
White poppies, passion-flowers and gray-leaved stocks.
Her pure kind touch redeemed the most forlorn,
And even the vile petunia smiled, new-born.
The dearest fairy of all--green is her gown--
She kissed the plane-trees in the tiresome town,
She smoothed the pastures and the lawn's pale sheen,
She decked the boughs with hangings fresh and green,
She showed each flower the one and only way
Its beauty of shape and colour to display;
She taught the world to be a Paradise
Of changing leaf and blade, for tired eyes.
Then, one and all, they came where you were laid
In your strait bed, my little lovely maid;
The red-robed fairy kissed your lips, your face,
The white-robed made your heart her dwelling-place.
Into your eyes the green robed fairy smiled;
The golden fairy touched your dreams, my child,
And one, not named, but mightiest, made my Dear
The innermost rose of the re-flowered year.
More verses by Edith Nesbit
- To Her: In Time Of War
- To His Lady,
- To Hubert
- To One Who Bade Him Work
- To One Who Pleaded For Candour In Love