'Child of Faerie, Child of Earth'

Story Time

September 13, 2000|By Jane Yolen

Editor's note: Two children from different worlds become lifelong friends.

He was a child of faerie folk, A child of sky and air, And she was a child of humankind, Of earth and toil and care.

They met in the dusk of Hallow's Eve, When the widows grieve In widow's weave. They met in the dark of Hallow's Eve,

She had flowers in her hair. "And where do you go, O child of earth? Oh, why do you wander here? Are you not afraid of the faerie race Whose castles are so near?"

"My mama says there's no such thing As faerie wing And elven ring. She says there's never been such thing, And I should have no fear."

He took her by her dirt-soiled hand And led her to his hall. He showed her brownies and boggles and sprites And elven folk and all. She ate the grass, she drank the dew, The faerie brew Of rainbow hue. She danced all night with the elven crew And didn't sleep at all.

"Oh, stay with me, dear human child, Become a child of night. We'll dance between the hollow hills Bedecked in candlelight. And ever after, Hallowe'en, Clothed all in green, My faerie queen, You'll be the loveliest ever seen, The elven court's delight."

She looked around the faerie hall

Beneath the hollow hill,

And all the glamour round her spun,

To bend her to his will.

But with a sigh, she shook her head.

"That's not my bread

And drink," she said.

"I cannot on your food be fed

And still my needs fulfill."

"But since I've danced with you this night, This day you dance with me." She took him by his grass-green sleeve And led him over the lea. She led him down the farmyard road, Past meadows mowed And gardens hoed. She led him over the human road, And full of awe was he.

They stroked the cat, they milked the cow, They fed each chick and hen. He marveled at the sounds and smells Of barn and yard and pen. He drank cold milk and ate brown bread. He made a bed. He cleaned a shed. He followed everywhere she led, Then round about again.

"Oh, stay with me, dear faerie child, And live here on the land. We'll till the soil, we'll plow the field, We'll harvest hand in hand. The night is fair, but day is best, So be my guest, Forget the rest." And on and on her suit she pressed With strong and sure demand.

He looked around the human world,

A world of gold and brown,

A world where farmyard turns to village,

Village into town;

A world of colors pure and bright,

Of open sight,

Of warm sunlight,

Unlike the shadowed world of night,

Of moon and thistledown.

He thought about the faerie halls, The faerie queens and kings. He thought about the cold, cold stars That shone on faerie rings. "I miss my own; I cannot stay. You work. I play. I must away. I'll keep the night and you the day." He stretched translucent wings."

"Oh, wait, oh, wait," she cried to him. "At least a gift I'll give, Reminding you that here above Is where a friend does live." And through the daylight world again, Past denizen Of barn and pen She tracked past horse and cow and hen To find a gift to give.

At last she found a fresh hen's egg A gift from humankind So he'd remember earth and toil When he'd left both behind. Then in return, he touched the shell, And with a spell Of fare-thee-well Extracted from that fragile shell A feather to remind.

"I give you this that comes from that," The faerie child replied, "The egg and feather both shall serve As token and as guide. That we may both go arm in arm And fear no harm, Nor take alarm When visiting in hall or farm (Or other lands beside)."

The gifts exchanged, they each went back To homes they loved full well. But now and then, they visited, Helped by a faerie spell. And though the years flew quickly past, They were friends fast, From first to last, Which left all skeptics flabbergast At how they did so well.

So if one lucky Hallow's Eve You hear the night birds sing And see a child of faerie guise With bright and gauzy wing A-flutter in a moonlit glade And all arrayed In silver shade, Be bold, be brave, be unafraid, And join that faerie ring.

CREDIT: Excerpt from CHILD OF FAERIE, CHILD OF EARTH by Jane Yolen, illustrated by Jane Dyer. Text copyright (c) 1997 by Jane Yolen. Illustrations copyright (c) 1997 by Jane Dyer. Reprinted by permission of Little, Brown and Company (Inc.). All rights reserved.

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