Verse > Anthologies > Edmund Clarence Stedman, ed. > A Victorian Anthology, 1837–1895
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Edmund Clarence Stedman, ed. (1833–1908).  A Victorian Anthology, 1837–1895.  1895.
 
The Folk of the Air
 
William Butler Yeats (1865–1939)
 
 
O’DRISCOLL drove with a song
  The wild duck and the drake
From the tall and the tufted weeds
  Of the drear Heart Lake.
 
And he saw how the weeds grew dark        5
  At the coming of night tide,
And he dreamed of the long dim hair
  Of Bridget his bride.
 
He heard while he sang and dreamed
  A piper piping away,        10
And never was piping so sad,
  And never was piping so gay.
 
And he saw young men and young girls
  Who danced on a level place,
And Bridget his bride among them,        15
  With a sad and a gay face.
 
The dancers crowded about him,
  And many a sweet thing said,
And a young man brought him red wine,
  And a young girl white bread.        20
 
But Bridget drew him by the sleeve,
  Away from the merry bands,
To old men playing at cards
  With a twinkling of ancient hands.
 
The bread and the wine had a doom,        25
  For these were the folk of the air;
He sat and played in a dream
  Of her long dim hair.
 
He played with the merry old men,
  And thought not of evil chance,        30
Until one bore Bridget his bride
  Away from the merry dance.
 
He bore her away in his arms,
  The handsomest young man there,
And his neck and his breast and his arms        35
  Were drowned in her long dim hair.
 
O’Driscoll got up from the grass
  And scattered the cards with a cry;
But the old men and dancers were gone
  As a cloud faded into the sky.        40
 
He knew now the folk of the air,
  And his heart was blackened by dread,
And he ran to the door of his house;
  Old women were keening the dead;
 
But he heard high up in the air        45
  A piper piping away;
And never was piping so sad
  And never was piping so gay.
 

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