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.

'The Elfin Artist' is reprinted from An Anthology of Modern Verse. Ed. A. Methuen. London: Methuen & Co., 1921.




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