Flower Fairies and poems by Cicely Mary Barker
The Song of
the Alder Fairy

By the lake or river-side
Where the Alders dwell,
In the Autumn may be spied
Baby catkins; cones beside —
Old and new as well.
Seasons come and seasons go;
That's the tale they tell!

After Autumn, Winter's cold
Leads us to the Spring;
And, before the leaves unfold,
On the Alder you'll behold,
Crimson catkins swing!
They are making ready now;
That's the song I sing!

For James H.

The Song of
the Mallow Fairy

I am Mallow; here sit I
Watching all the passers-by.
Though my leaves are torn and tattered,
Dust-besprinkled, mud be-spattered,
See, my seeds are fairy cheeses,
Freshest, finest fairy cheeses!
These are what an elf will munch
For his supper or his lunch.
Fairy housewives going down
To their busy market-town,
Hear me wheedling: "Lady, please,
Pretty lady, buy a cheese!"
And I never find it matters
That I'm nicknamed Rags-and-Tatters,
For they buy my fairy cheeses,
Freshest finest, fairy cheeses!

For Sarah F.

The Song of
the Traveller's Joy Fairy

Traveller, traveller, tramping by
To the seaport town where
the big ships lie,
See, I have built a shady bower
To shelter you from the sun or shower.
Rest for a bit, then on, my boy!
Luck go with you, and Traveller's Joy!

Traveller, traveller, tramping home
From foreign places beyond the foam,
See, I have hung out a white festoon
To greet the lad with the dusty shoon.
Somewhere a lass looks out for a boy:
Luck be with you, and Traveller's Joy!

(Traveller's Joy is Wild Clematis; and when the flowers are over, it becomes a mass of silky fluff, and then we call it Old-Man's Beard.)

For Cathy

The Song of the
Jack-by-the-Hedge Fairy

"'Morning, Sir, and how-d'ye-do?
'Morning, pretty lady!"
That is Jack saluting you,
Where the lane is shady.

Don't you know him?
Straight and tall —
Taller than the nettles;
Large and light his leaves; and small
Are his buds and petals.

Small and white, with petals four,
See his flowers growing!
If you never knew before,
There is Jack for knowing!

(Jack-by-the-hedge is also called Garlic Mustard,
and Sauce Alone.)

For Troy

The Song of
the Blackberry Fairy

My berries cluster black and thick
For rich and poor alike to pick.

I'll tear your dress, and cling, and tease,
And scratch your hands
and arms and knees.

I'll stain your fingers and your face
And then I'll laugh at your disgrace.

But when the bramble-jelly's made
You'll find your trouble well repaid.

For Sarah B.

The Song of
the Sycamore Fairy

Because my seeds have wings,
you know,
They fly away to earth;
And where they fall, why,
there they grow —
New Sycamores have birth!
Perhaps a score? Oh, hundreds more!
Too many, people say!
And yet to me it's fun to see
My winged seeds fly away.
(But first they must turn ripe and brown,
And lose their flush of red;
And then they'll all go twirling down
To earth, to find a bed.)

For Sam

The Song of
the Herb Robert Fairy

Litle Herb Robert,
Bright and small,
Peeps from the bank
Or the old stone wall.

Little Herb Robert,
His leaf turns red;
He's wild geranium,
So it is said.

For Jacob

The Song of
the Poplar Fairy

White fluff is drifting like snow round
our feet;
Puff! It goes blowing
Away down the street.

Where does it come from? Look up
and see!
There, from the Poplar!
Yes, from that tree!

Tassels of silky white fluffiness there
Hang among leaves
All a-shake in the air.
Fairies, you well may guess, use it
to stuff
Pillows and cushions
And play with it — puff!

For Joshua

The Song of
the Horse Chestnut Fairy

My conkers, they are shiny things,
And things of mighty joy,
And they are like the wealth of kings
To every little boy;
I see the upturned face of each
Who stands around the tree:
He sees his treasure out of reach,
But does not notice me.

For love of conkers bright and brown,
He pelts the tree all day;
With stones and sticks
he knocks them down,
And thinks it jolly play.
But sometimes I, the elf, am hit
Until I'm black and blue;
O laddies, only wait a bit,
I'll shake them down to you!

For Matt

The Song of
the Harebell Fairy

O bells, on stems so thin and fine!
No human ear
Your sound can hear,
O lightly chiming bells of mine!

When dim and dewy twilight falls,
Then comes the time
When harebells chime
For fairy feasts and fairy balls.

They tinkle while the fairies play,
With dance and song,
The whole night long,
Till daybreak wakens, cold and grey,
And elfin music fades away.

(The Harebell is the Bluebell of Scotland.)

For Leslie

The Song of
the Heather Fairy

"Ho, Heather, ho! From south to north
Spread now your royal purple forth!
Ho, jolly one! From east to west,
The moorland waiteth to be dressed!

I come, I come! With footsteps sure
I run to clothe the waiting moor;
From heath to heath I leap and stride
To fling my bounty far and wide.

(The heather in the picture is bell heather, or heath; it is different from the common heather which is also called ling.)

For Thomas

The Song of
the Strawberry Fairy

A flower for S!
Is Sunflower He?
He's handsome, yes,
But what of me? —

In my party suit
Of red and white
And a gift of fruit
For the feast tonight:

Strawberries small
And wild and sweet,
For the Queen and all
Of her Court to eat!

For Madelyn

The Song of
the Lavender Fairy

"Lavender's blue, diddle diddle" —
So goes the song;
All round her bush, diddle diddle,
Butterflies throng;
(They love her well, diddle diddle,
So do the bees;)
While she herself, diddle diddle,
Sways in the breeze!

"Lavender's blue, diddle diddle,
Lavender's green";

She'll scent the clothes, diddle diddle,
Put away clean —
Clean from the wash, diddle diddle,
Hanky and sheet;
Lavender's spikes, diddle diddle,
Make them all sweet!

(The word "blue" was often used in old days where we should say "purple" or "mauve".)

For Deborah

The Song of
the Eyebright Fairy

Eyebright for letter E:
Where shall we look for him?
Bright eyes we'll need to see
Someone so small as he.
Where is the nook for him?

Look on the hillside bare,
Nibbled by bunnies;
Harebells and thyme are there,
All in the open air
Where the great sun is.
There in the turf is he,
(No sheltered nook for him!)
Eyebright for letter E,
Saying, "Please, this is me!"
That's where to look for him.

For Andy

The Song of
the Herb Twopence Fairy

Have you pennies? I have many:
Each round leaf of mine's a penny,
Two and two along the stem —
Such a business, counting them!
(While I talk, and while you listen,
Notice how the green leaves glisten,
Also every flower-cup:
Don't I keep them polished up?)

Have you one name? I have many:
"Wandering Sailor", "Creeping Jenny",
"Money-wort", and of the rest
"Strings of Sovereigns" is the best,
(That's my yellow flowers, you see.)
"Meadow Runagates" is me,
And "Herb Twopence". Tell me which
Show I stray, and show I'm rich?

For Drew

The Song of
the Wayfaring Tree Fairy

My shoots are tipped
with buds as dusty-grey
As ancient pilgrims
toiling on their way.

Like Thursday's child
with far to go, I stand,
All ready for the road
to Fairyland;

With hood, and bag, and shoes,
my name to suit,
And in my hand
my gorgeous-tinted fruit.

For Rebecca

The Song of
the Box Tree Fairy

Have you seen the Box unclipped,
Never shaped and never snipped?
Often it's a garden hedge
Just a narrow little edge;
Or in funny shapes it's cut
And it's very pretty; but

But, unclipped, it is a tree,
Growing as it likes to be;

And it has its blossoms too;
Tiny buds, the Winter through,
Wait to open in the Spring
In a scented yellow ring.

And among its leaves there play
Little blue-tits, brisk and gay.

For Jack

The Song of
the Ribwort Plantain Fairy

Hullo, Snailey-O!
How's the world with you?
Put your little horns out;
Tell me how you do?
There's rain, and dust, and sunshine,
Where carts go creaking by;
You like it wet, Snailey;
I like it dry!

Hey ho, Snailey-O,
I'll whistle you a tune!
I'm merry in September
As e'er I am in June.
By any stony roadside
Wherever you may roam,
All the summer through, Snailey,
Plantain's at home!

For Jim


The Song of
the Blackthorn Fairy

The wind is cold, the Spring seems long
The woods are brown and bare;
Yet this is March: soon April
will be making
All things most sweet and fair.

See, even now, in hedge
and thicket tangled,
One brave and cheering sight:
The leafless branches of the Blackthorn,
With starry blossoms white!

(The cold days of March are sometimes called "Blackthorn Winter".)

For Tori

The Song of
the Mulberry Fairy

"Here we go round the mulberry bush!"
You remember the rhyme — oh yes!
But which of you know
How Mulberries grow
On the slender branches, drooping low?
Not many of you, I guess.

Someone goes round the Mulberry bush
When nobody's there to see;
He takes the best
And he leaves the rest,
From top to toe like a Mulberry drest:
This fat little fairy's he!

For James C.

The Song of
The Marigold Fairy

Great Sun above me in the sky,
So golden, glorious, and high,
My petals, see, are golden too;
They shine, but cannot shine like you.

I scatter many seeds around;
And where they fall upon the ground,
More Marigolds will spring,
more flowers
To open wide in sunny hours.

It is because I love you so,
I turn to watch you as you go;
Without your light, no joy could be.
Look down, great Sun, and shine
on me!

For Laura

The song is "Epona" by Enya
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