The Fairy Changeling


The Fairy Changeling is the title poem in Shorter's collection, The Fairy Changeling and Other Poems (1897).
Limitations of Benevolence
John Bauer, Alfred Smedberg's The Seven Wishes in Julbocken, 1907
Dermod O’Byrne of Omah town
In his garden strode up and down;
He pulled his beard, and he beat his breast;
And this is his trouble and woe confessed:

“The good-folk came in the night, and they
Have stolen my bonny wean away;
Have put in his place a changeling,
A weashy, weakly, wizen thing!

“From the speckled hen nine eggs I stole,
And lighting a fire of a glowing coal,
I fried the shells, and I spilt the yolk;
But never a word the stranger spoke:

“A bar of metal I heated red
To frighten the fairy from its bed,
To put in the place of this fretting wean
My own bright beautiful boy again.

“But my wife had hidden it in her arms,
And cried ‘For shame!’ on my fairy charms;
She sobs, with the strange child on her breast:
‘I love the weak, wee babe the best!’”

To Dermod O’Byrne’s, the tale to hear,
The neighbours came from far and near:
Outside his gate, in the long boreen,
They crossed themselves, and said between

Their muttered prayers, “He has no luck!
For sure the woman is fairy-struck,
To leave her child a fairy guest,
And love the weak, wee wean the best!”


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