THE ELFIN ARTIST
by: Alfred Noyes (1880-1958)
- N a glade
of an elfin forest
- When Sussex was Eden-new,
- I came on an elvish painter
- And watched as his picture grew,
- A harebell nodded beside him.
- He dipt his brush in the dew.
- And it might be the wild thyme round him
- That shone in the dark strange ring;
- But his brushes were bees' antennae,
- His knife was a wasp's blue sting;
- And his gorgeous exquisite palette
- Was a butterfly's fan-shaped wing.
- And he mingled its powdery colours,
- And painted the lights that pass,
- On a delicate cobweb canvas
- That gleamed like a magic glass,
- And bloomed like a banner of elf-land,
- Between two stalks of grass;
- Till it shone like an angel's feather
- With sky-born opal and rose,
- And gold from the foot of the rainbow,
- And colours that no man knows;
- And I laughed in the sweet May weather,
- Because of the themes he chose.
- For he painted the things that matter,
- The tints that we all pass by,
- Like the little blue wreaths of incense
- That the wild thyme breathes to the sky;
- Or the first white bud of the hawthorn,
- And the light in a blackbird's eye;
- And the shadows on soft white cloud-peaks
- That carolling skylarks throw,--
- Dark dots on the slumbering splendours
- That under the wild wings flow,
- Wee shadows like violets trembling
- On the unseen breasts of snow;
- With petals too lovely for colour
- That shake to the rapturous wings,
- And grow as the bird draws near them,
- And die as he mounts and sings,--
- Ah, only those exquisite brushes
- Could paint these marvellous things.
POEMS BY ALFRED NOYES
'The Elfin Artist' is reprinted
from An Anthology of Modern Verse. Ed. A. Methuen. London:
Methuen & Co., 1921.