Mider’s Song by Fiona Macleod

From The Book of Fairy Poetry, published in 1920, this is one of several fairy poems written by Fiona Macleod which deals with fairies on a powerful, adult, and real level. One of my favorite passages illustrates this point: “They laugh and are glad, And are terrible: When their lances shake, Every green reed quivers.” This is definitely not a child’s fairy poem–

How beautiful they are,

The lordly ones

Who dwell in the hills,

In the hollow hills.

* * * * *

They have faces like flowers

And their breath is wind

That blows over grass

Filled with dewy clover.

* * * * *

Their limbs are more white

Than shafts of moonshine:

They are more fleet

Than the March wind.

* * * * *

They laugh and are glad

And are terrible:

When their lances shake

Every green reed quivers.

* * * * *

How beautiful they are,

How beautiful,

The lordly ones

In the hollow hills.

* * * * *
I would go back

To the Country of the Young,

And see again

The lances of the Shee,

* * * * *

As they keep their hosting

With laughing cries

In pale places

Under the moon.

By |2011-02-04T12:35:38+00:00|Everything Else|23 Comments

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  1. val May 8, 2009 at 12:31 pm - Reply

    that poem is awesome! 😀 does dreaming of an elves is kind of communicating also with them? but that time i’m not that interested! dreaming in a row, night after night! t.t

    • admin May 13, 2009 at 4:47 pm - Reply

      Hi val,

      Yes, this is one of my favorite faery poems…

      I think I have answered this on another post but yes, I do think that dreaming of elves talking to you is definitely a communication from them –


  2. Caedfael May 16, 2009 at 4:14 am - Reply

    I remember hearing this poem being sung at a musical competition, but cannot find it on the web. Anyone know where I might obtain the sheet music?

    • admin May 26, 2009 at 10:06 am - Reply

      Hi Caedfael,

      No, sorry, I don’t know about this ever being sung but that is a wonderful idea. Maybe someone here knows this information??

  3. Colin Doran July 30, 2009 at 5:01 pm - Reply

    I remember having this poem in an anthology of poems and stories when I was about ten years of age.

    • admin July 31, 2009 at 12:53 am - Reply

      Hi Colin,

      Yes, even though it is often found in anthologies for children–that’s where I found it–I think the writer was writing for adults.


  4. Bri3 August 14, 2009 at 4:12 pm - Reply

    i don’t get it when it says they are cruel….

  5. Bri3 August 14, 2009 at 4:12 pm - Reply

    er i mean when it says the laughter is terrible

  6. Lucille Kerns October 30, 2009 at 8:28 am - Reply

    Grew up singing this song in England in school.
    Does anyone know who recorded it,please?

  7. Maisie Egger December 30, 2009 at 5:50 am - Reply

    This poem /song can be found on YouTube. It was often recorded on the BBC and was very popular. We sang it as children, so where does the notion come from that it is not suitable for children … Hans Christian Andersen, anyone?


  8. Derek Roper December 24, 2010 at 5:45 pm - Reply

    The words are by “Fiona Macleod” (pseudonym of William Sharp) and the song comes into Macleod’s fairy play The Immortal Hour (1900). The play was set to music by Rutland Boughton in 1916. With Gwen Frangcon-Davies in a leading role, it drew a “small but enraptured audience”, some of whom went many times, to the Regent Theatre, London, in 1923. See introduction by Terence de Vere White to the Virago Press edition of Love, by Elizabeth von Arnim.

    • Natalie Lynn January 2, 2011 at 6:28 pm - Reply

      Thanks Derek, I love this poem and I find William Sharp to be very interesting. Thanks for the info.

  9. CHARON December 30, 2010 at 9:22 pm - Reply

    Anyone who wants to hear this being sung will find it on “Kenneth McKellar – The Decca Years.” If you look for it on Amazon, you will be able to listen to an excerpt. It’s a lovely, well rounded version, which hits all the right parts.

    • Natalie Lynn January 2, 2011 at 6:36 pm - Reply

      Thanks Charon, I will check it out!

  10. CHARON December 30, 2010 at 9:25 pm - Reply

    ps – sorry, meant to add that the vocal score is also available there.

  11. pauline January 7, 2011 at 11:27 am - Reply

    I remember this as a song from a play done in elementary school in the 1940’s…a beautiful tune.You can go to You Tube and hear this song sung.

  12. Robert Lea August 28, 2014 at 10:33 am - Reply

    When I was taught this poem(as a song)it went
    They have faces like flowers
    And their breath is the wind
    That blows oe’r the summer meadows,
    Filled with dewy clover.

  13. Malcolm November 9, 2014 at 8:05 am - Reply

    Yes, Robert, we learned that version at school in the 1940s:

    …They have faces like flowers
    And their breath is a wind
    That blows over summer meadows
    Filled with dewy clover

    and I believe the music was by Rutland Boughton, I remember the music pretty well, though I have never heard it since

  14. c Beesley February 27, 2016 at 5:32 am - Reply

    We sang it in the school Choir approx 1962, at a BBC choir competition. It has haunted me ever since.

  15. Carl February 23, 2017 at 8:48 am - Reply

    I believe that where the lances of the Shee are mentioned the word is pronounced Shee but should be spelled Sidhe in the Gaelic Erse. Sorry to be pedantic but such beauty deserves references for research.

    • Natalie Lynn December 18, 2018 at 2:31 pm - Reply

      Thank you, Carl, for taking the time to write and suggest that correction, I appreciate it. You are absolutely right and I have made the change.

  16. Eluzabeth October 31, 2017 at 12:26 pm - Reply

    We sang it in school c1959; it was lovely to sing – magical and ive never forgotten it. It lives in my head in a beautiful way.

  17. JACQ CIVITARESE May 24, 2018 at 12:26 pm - Reply

    Found a version on Youtube


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