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Stedman and Hutchinson, comps. A Library of American Literature:
An Anthology in Eleven Volumes. 1891.
Vols. IX–XI: Literature of the Republic, Part IV., 1861–1889

Song of the Elfin Steersman

By George Hill (1796–1871)

[Born in Guilford, Conn., 1796. Died in New York, N. Y., 1871. From “Titania’s Banquet, a Mask,” in The Ruins of Athens, and Other Poems. 1839.]

ONE elf, I trow, is diving now

For the small pearl; and one,

The honey-bee for his bag he

Goes chasing in the sun;

And one, the knave, has pilfered from

The nautilus his boat,

And takes his idle pastime where

The water-lilies float.

And some the mote, for the gold of his coat,

By the light of the will-o’-wisp follow;

And others, they trip where the alders dip

Their leaves in the watery hollow;

And one is with the fire-fly’s lamp

Lighting his love to bed:

Sprites, away! elf and fay,

And see them hither sped.

Haste! hither whip them with this end

Of spider’s web—anon

The ghost will have fled to his grave-bed,

And the bat winked in the sun.

Haste! for the ship, till the moon dip

Her horn, I did but borrow;

And crowing cocks are fairy clocks,

That mind us of to-morrow.

The summer moon will soon go down,

And the day-star dim her horn,

O blow, then, blow, till not a wave

Leap from the deep unshorn!

Blow, sweep their white tops into mist,

As merrily we roam,

Till the wide sea one bright sheet be,

One sheet of fire and foam.

Blow, till the sea a bubble be,

And toss it to the sky,—

Till the sands we tread of the ocean-bed,

As the summer fountain’s dry.

The upper shelves are ours, my elves,

Are ours, and soon the nether

With sea-flowers we shall sprinkled see,

And pearls like dew-drops gather.

The summer moon will soon go down,

And then our course is up;

Our frigate then the cockle-shell,

Our boat the bean-flower cup.

Sprites away! elf and fay,

From thicket, lake, and hollow;

The blind bat, look! flits to his nook,

And we must quickly follow.

Ha! here they come, skimming the foam,

A gallant crew. But list!

I hear the crow of the cock—O blow,

Till the sea-foam drift like mist.

Fairies, haste! flood and blast

Quickly bring, and stay

The moon’s horn—look! to his nook

The blind bat flits—away!