Verse > Anthologies > > Arthur Quiller-Couch, ed. > The Oxford Book of Victorian Verse
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Arthur Quiller-Couch, comp.  The Oxford Book of Victorian Verse.  1922.
 
Elfin Skates
By Eugene Lee-Hamilton (1845–1907)
 
I
THEY wheel’d me up the snow-clear’d garden way,
  And left me where the dazzling heaps were thrown;
  And as I mused on winter sports once known,
Up came a tiny man to where I lay.
He was six inches high; his beard was grey        5
  As silver frost; his coat and cap were brown,
  Of mouse’s fur; while two wee skates hung down
From his wee belt, and gleam’d in winter’s ray.
 
He clamber’d up my couch, and eyed me long.
  ‘Show me thy skates,’ said I; ‘for once, alas!        10
    I too could skate. What pixie mayst thou be?’
‘I am the king’, he answered, ‘of the throng
  Called Winter Elves. We live in roots, and pass
    The summer months asleep. Frost sets us free.’
 
II
‘WE find by moonlight little pools of ice,
        15
  Just one yard wide,’ the imp of winter said;
  ‘And skate all night, while mortals are in bed,
In tiny circles of our elf device;
And when it snows we harness forest mice
  To wee bark sleighs, with lightest fibrous thread,        20
  And scour the woods; or play all night instead
With snowballs large as peas, well patted thrice.
 
But is it true, as I have heard them say,
  That thou canst share in winter games no more,
    But liest motionless, year in, year out?        25
That must be hard. To-day I cannot stay,
  But I’ll return each year, when all is hoar,
    And tell thee when the skaters are about.’
 
 
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