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The heART of Ritual


Seasonal Poetry & Prose: 'The Man who Trod on Sleeping Grass', by Dora Sigerson Shorter

In a field by Cahirconlish ⁠I stood on sleeping grass, No cry I made to Heaven ⁠From my dumb lips would pass. Three days, three nights I slumbered, ⁠And till I woke again Those I have loved have sought me, ⁠And sorrowed all in vain. My neighbours still upbraid me, ⁠And murmur as I pass, “There goes a man enchanted. ⁠He trod on Fairy grass.” My little ones around me, ⁠They claim my old caress, I push them roughly from me ⁠With hands that cannot bless. My wife upon my shoulder ⁠A bitter tear lets fall, I turn away in anger ⁠And love her not at all. For like a man surrounded. ⁠In some sun-haunted lane. By countless wings that follow, ⁠A grey and stinging chain, Around my head for ever ⁠I hear small voices speak In tongues I cannot follow, ⁠I know not what they seek. I raise my hands to find them ⁠When autumn winds go by, And see between my fingers ⁠A broken summer fly. I raise my hands to hold them ⁠When winter days are near, And clasp a falling snowflake ⁠That breaks into a tear. And ever follows laughter ⁠That echoes through my heart. From some delights forgotten ⁠Where once I had a part What love comes, half-remembered. ⁠In half-forgotten bliss? Who lay upon my bosom, ⁠And had no human kiss? Where is the land I loved in? ⁠What music did I sing That left my ears enchanted ⁠Inside the Fairy ring? I see my neighbours shudder, ⁠And whisper as I pass: “Three nights the Fairies stole him; ⁠He trod on sleeping grass.” Art by Arthur Rackham


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