Old Chaucer doth of Topas tell,
Mad Rabelais of Pantagruel,
A later third of Dowsabel,
such poor trifles playing ;
Others the like have labored at,
Some of this thing and some of that,
And many of they know not what,
that they must be saying.
Another sort there be, that will
Be talking of the Fairies still,
Nor never can they have their fill,
they were wedded to them;
No tales of them their thirst can
So much delight therein they take,
And some strange thing they fain
they the way to do them.
Then since no Muse hath been so bold,
Or of the later, or the old,
Those elvish secrets to unfold,
lie from others' reading,
My active Muse to light shall bring
The Court of that proud Fairy King,
And tell there of the revelling
prosper my proceeding !
And thou, Nymphidia, gentle Fay,
Which, meeting me upon the way,
These secrets didst to me bewray,
now I am in telling ;
My pretty, light, fantastic maid,
I here invoke thee to my aid,
That I may speak what thou hast
numbers smoothly swelling.
This palace standeth in the air,
By necromancy placed there,
That it no tempests needs to fear,
way soe'er it blow it ;
And somewhat southward toward the
Whence lies a way up to the moon,
And thence the Fairy can as soon
to the earth below it.
The walls of spiders' legs are made
Well mortised and finely laid ;
He was the master of his trade
curiously that builded ;
The windows of the eyes of cats,
And for the roof, instead of slats,
Is covered with the skins of bats,
moonshine that are gilded.
Hence Oberon him sport to make,
Their rest when weary mortals take,
And none but only fairies wake,
for his pleasure ;
And Mab, his merry Queen, by night
Bestrides young folks that lie upright
(In elder times, the mare that hight),
plagues them out of measure.
Hence shadows, seeming idle shapes
Of little frisking elves and apes
To earth do make their wanton scapes,
hope of pastime hastes them ;
Which maids think on the hearth
When fires well-near consumed be,
There dancing hays by two and three,
as their fancy casts them.
These make our girls their sluttery
By pinching them both black and
And put a penny in their shoe
house for cleanly sweeping ;
And in their courses make that round
In meadows and in marshes found,
Of them so called the Fairy Ground,
which they have the keeping.
These when a child haps to be got
Which after proves an idiot
When folk perceive it thriveth not,
fault therein to smother,
Some silly, doting, brainless calf
That understands things by the half,
Say that the Fairy left this aulfe
took away the other.
But listen, and I shall you tell
A chance in Fairy that befell,
Which certainly may please some
love and arms delighting,
Of Oberon that jealous grew
Of one of his own Fairy crew,
Too well, he feared, his Queen that
love but ill requiting.
Pigwiggen was this Fairy Knight,
One wondrous gracious in the sight
Of fair Queen Mab, which day and
amorously observed ;
Which made King Oberon suspect
His service took too good effect,
His sauciness and often checkt,
could have wished him starved.
Pigwiggen gladly would commend
Some token to Queen Mab to send,
If sea or land could ought him lend
worthy of her wearing ;
At length this lover doth devise
A bracelet made of emmets' eyes,
A thing he thought that she would
whit her state impairing.
And to the Queen a letter writes,
Which he most curiously indites,
Conjuring her by all the rites
love, she would be pleased
To meet him, her true servant, where
They might, without suspect or fear,
Themselves to one another clear
have their poor hearts eased.
" At midnight the appointed hour,
And for the Queen a fitting bower,"
Quoth he, " is that fair cowslip
Hipcut hill that bloweth :
In all your train there's not a
That ever went to gather may
But she hath made it, in her way
tallest there that groweth."
When by Tom Thumb, a Fairy Page,
He sent it, and doth him engage
By promise of a mighty wage
secretly to carry ;
Which done, the Queen her maids
And bids them to be ready all :
She would go see her summer hall,
could no longer tarry.
Her chariot ready straight is made,
Each thing therein is fitting laid,
That she by nothing might be stayed,
nought must her be letting ;
Four nimble gnats the horses were,
Their harnesses of gossamer,
Fly Cranion her charioteer
the coach-box getting.
Her chariot of a snail's fine shell,
Which for the colours did excel,
The fair Queen Mab becoming well,
lively was the limning ;
The seat the soft wool of the bee,
The cover, gallantly to see,
The wing of a pied butterflee ;
trow 't was simple trimming.
The wheels composed of crickets'
And daintily made for the nonce,
For fear of rattling on the stones
thistle-down they shod it;
For all her maidens much did fear
If Oberon had chanced to hear
That Mab his Queen should have been
would not have abode it.
She mounts her chariot with a trice,
Nor would she stay, for no advice,
Until her maids that were so nice
wait on her were fitted ;
But ran herself away alone,
Which when they heard, there was
But hasted after to be gone,
she had been diswitted.
Hop and Mop and Drop so clear,
Pip and Trip and Skip that were
To Mab, their sovereign, ever dear,
special maids of honour ;
Fib and Tib and Pink and Pin,
Tick and Quick and Jill and Jin,
Tit and Nit and Wap and Win,
train that wait upon her.
Upon a grasshopper they got
And, what with amble and with trot,
For hedge nor ditch they spared
after her they hie them ;
A cobweb over them they throw,
To shield the wind if it should
Themselves they wisely could bestow
any should espy them.
But let us leave Queen Mab awhile,
(Through many a gate, o'er many
That now had gotten by this wile),
dear Pigwiggen kissing ;
And tell how Oberon doth fare,
Who grew as mad as any hare
When he had sought each place with
found his Queen was missing.
By grisly Pluto he doth swear,
He rent his clothes and tore his
And as he runneth here and there
acorn cup he greeteth,
Which soon he taketh by the stalk,
About his head he lets it walk,
Nor doth he any creature balk,
lays on all he meeteth.
The Tuscan poet doth advance
The frantic Paladin of France,
And those more ancient do enhance
in his fury,
And others Ajax Telamon,
But to this time there hath been
So bedlam as our Oberon,
which I dare assure ye.
And first encountering with a Wasp,
He in his arms the fly doth clasp
As though his breath he forth would
for Pigwiggen taking :
" Where is my wife, thou rogue?"
" Pigwiggen, she is come to thee
Restore her, or thou diest by me
the poor wasp quaking,
Cries, " Oberon, great Fairy King,
Content thee, I am no such thing:
I am a Wasp, behold my sting !"
which the Fairy started ;
When soon away the Wasp doth go,
Poor wretch, was never frighted
He thought his wings were much too
they so were parted.
He next upon a Glow-worm light
(You must suppose it now was night),
Which, for her hinder part was bright,
took to be a devil,
And furiously doth her assail
For carrying fire in her tail ;
He thrashed her rough coat with
his flail ;
mad King feared no evil.
"Oh !" quoth the Glow-worm, " hold
Thou puissant King of Fairy-land
Thy mighty strokes who may withstand
or of life despair I !"
Together then herself doth roll,
And tumbling down into a hole,
She seemed as black as any coal
vext away the Fairy.
From thence he ran into a hive :
Amongst the bees he letteth drive,
And down their combs begins to rive,
likely to have spoiled,
Which with their wax his face besmeared,
And with their honey daubed his
It would have made a man afeared
see how he was moiled.
A new adventure him betides ;
He met an Ant, which he bestrides,
And post thereon away he rides,
with his haste doth stumble,
And came full over on her snout
Her heels so threw the dirt about,
For she by no means could get out,
over him doth tumble.
And being in this piteous case,
And all be-slurred head and face,
On runs he in this wild-goose chase,
here and there he rambles ;
Half blind, against a molehole hit,
And for a mountain taking it,
For all he was out of his wit
to the top he scrambles.
And being gotten to the top,
Yet there himself he could not stop,
But down on the other side doth
to the foot came rumbling ;
So that the grubs, therein that
Hearing such turmoil overhead,
Thought surely they had all been
fearful was the jumbling.
And falling down into a lake,
Which him up to the neck doth take,
His fury somewhat it doth slake
calleth for a ferry ;
Where you may some recovery note,
What was his club he made his boat,
And in his oaken cup doth float,
safe as in a wherry.
Men talk of the adventures strange
Of Don Quishott, and of their change,
Through which he armed oft did range,
Sancha Pancha's travel ;
But should a man tell everything
Done by this frantic Fairy King,
And them in lofty numbers sing,
well his wits might gravel.
Scarce set on shore, but therewithal
He meeteth Puck, which most men
Hobgoblin, and on him doth fall
words from frenzy spoken :
"Ho, ho," quoth Hob, " God save
Who drest thee in this piteous case?
He thus that spoiled my sovereign's
would his neck were broken !"
This Puck seems but a dreaming dolt,
Still walking like a ragged colt,
And oft out of a bush doth bolt,
purpose to deceive us ;
And leading us makes us to stray,
Long winter's nights, out of the
And when we stick in mire and clay,
doth with laughter leave us.
" Dear Puck," quoth he, " my wife
is gone :
As e'er thou lov'st King Oberon,
Let everything but this alone,
vengeance and pursue her ;
Bring her to me alive or dead,
Or that vile thief Pigwiggen's head
That villain hath defiled my bed,
to this folly drew her."
Quoth Puck, " My liege, I'll never
But I will thorough thick and thin,
Until at length I bring her in ;
dearest lord, ne'er doubt it.
Thorough brake, thorough briar,
Thorough muck, thorough mire,
Thorough water, thorough fire ;
thus goes Puck about it."
This thing Nymphidia overheard,
That on this mad king had a guard,
Not doubting of a great reward
first this business broaching ;
And through the air away doth go,
Swift as an arrow from the bow,
To let her sovereign Mab to know,
peril was approaching.
The Queen bound with Love's powerful'st
Sat with Pigwiggen arm in arm ;
Her merry maids, that thought no
the room were skipping ;
A humble-bee, their minstrel, played,
Upon his hautboy, every maid
Fit for this revel was arrayed,
hornpipe neatly tripping.
In comes Nymphidia, and doth cry,
" My sovereign, for your safety
For there is danger but too nigh
posted to forewarn you :
The King hath sent Hobgoblin out,
To seek you all the fields about,
And of your safety you may doubt,
he but once discern you."
When like an uproar in a town,
Before them everything went down
Some tore a ruff, and some a gown,
one another justling ;
They flew about like chaff i' the
For haste some left their masks
Some could not stay their gloves
to find ;
never was such bustling.
Forth ran they, by a secret way,
Into a brake that near them lay
Yet much they doubted there to stay,
Hob should hap to find them ;
He had a sharp and piercing sight,
All one to him the day and night
And therefore were resolved by flight
leave this place behind them.
At length one chance to find a nut,
In the end of which a hole was cut,
Which lay upon a hazel root,
scattered by a suirrel
Which out the kernel gotten had
When quoth this Fay, " Dear Queen,
be glad ;
Let Oberon be ne'er so mad,
set you safe from peril.
" Come all into this nut," quoth
" Come closely in ; be ruled by
Each one may here a chooser be,
room ye need not wrastle :
Nor need ye be together heapt ;"
Son one by one therein they crept,
And lying down they soundly slept,
safe as in a castle.
Nymphidia, that this while doth watch,
Perceived if Puck the Queen should
That he should be her over-match,
which she well bethought her ;
Found it must be some powerful charm,
The Queen against him that must
Or surely he would do her harm,
throughly he had sought her.
And listening if she aught could
That her might hinder, or might
But finding still the coast was
creature had descried her ;
Each circumstance and having scanned,
She came thereby to understand,
Puck would be with them out of hand
to her charms she hied her.
And first her fern-seed doth bestow,
The kernel of the mistletoe ;
And here and there as Puck should
terror to affright him,
She nightshade straws to work him
Therewith her vervain and her dill,
That hindereth witches of their
purpose to despite him.
Then sprinkles she the juice of rue,
That groweth underneath the yew
With nine drops of the midnight
lunary distilling :
The molewarp's brain mixed therewithal
And with the same the pismire's
For she in nothing short would fall,
Fairy was so willing.
Then thrice under a briar doth creep,
Which at both ends was rooted deep,
And over it three times she leap
magic much availing :
Then on Proserpina doth call,
And so upon her spell doth fall,
Which here to you repeat I shall,
in one tittle failing.
" By the croaking of the frog,
By the howling of the dog,
By the crying of the hog
the storm arising ;
By the evening curfew bell,
By the doleful dying knell,
O let this my direful spell,
hinder thy surprising !
" By the mandrake's dreadful groans,
By the lubrican's sad moans,
By the noise of dead men's bones
charnel-houses rattling ;
By the hissing of the snake,
The rustling of the fire-drake,
I charge thee thou this place forsake,
of Queen Mab be prattling !
" By the whirlwind's hollow sound,
By the thunder's dreadful stound,
Yells of spirits underground.
charge thee not to fear us ;
By the screech-owl's dismal note,
By the black night-raven's throat,
I charge thee, Hob, to tear thy
thorns, if thou come near us !"
Her spell thus spoke, she stept aside,
And in a chink herself doth hide,
To see thereof what would betide,
she doth only mind him :
When presently she Puck espies,
And well she marked his gloating
How under every leaf he pries,
seeking still to find them.
But once the circle got within,
The charms to work do straight begin,
And he was caught as in a gin ;
as he thus was busy,
A pain he in his head-piece feels,
Against a stubbed tree he reels,
And up went poor Hobgoblin's heels
! his brain was dizzy !
At length upon his feet he gets,
Hobgoblin fumes, Hobgoblin frets
And as again he forward sets,
through the bushes scrambles,
A stump doth trip him in his pace
Down comes poor Hob upon his face,
And lamentably tore his case,
the briars and brambles.
" A plague upon Queen Mab !" quoth
" And all her maids where'er they
I think the devil guided me,
seek her so provoked !"
When stumbling at a piece of wood,
He fell into a ditch of mud,
Where to the very chin he stood,
danger to be choked.
Now worse than e'er he was before,
Poor Puck doth yell, poor Puck doth
That waked Queen Mab, who doubted
treason had been wrought her :
Until Nymphidia told the Queen,
What she had done, what she had
Who then had well-near cracked her
very extreme laughter.
But leave we Hob to clamber out,
Queen Mab and all her Fairy rout,
And come again to have a bout
Oberon yet madding :
And with Pigwiggen now distraught,
Who much was troubled in his thought,
That he so long the Queen had sought,
through the fields was gadding.
And as he runs he still doth cry,
" King Oberon, I thee defy,
And dare thee here in arms to try,
my dear lady's honour :
For that she is a Queen right good,
In whose defence I'll shed my blood,
And that thou in this jealous mood
lain this slander on her."
And quickly arms him for the field,
A little cockle-shell his shield,
Which he could very bravely wield,
could it not be pierced :
His spear a bent both stiff and
And well-near of two inches long
The pile was of a horse-fly's tongue,
sharpness nought reversed.
And puts him on a coat of mail,
Which was of a fish's scale,
That when his foe should him assail,
point should be prevailing :
His rapier was a hornet's sting
It was a very dangerous thing,
For if he chanced to hurt the King,
would be long in healing.
His helmet was a beetle's head,
Most horrible and full of dread,
That able was to strike one dead,
did it well become him ;
And for a plume a horse's hair
Which, being tossed with the air,
Had force to strike his foe with
turn his weapon from him.
Himself he on an earwig set,
yet scarce he on his back could
So oft and high he did curvet,
he himself could settle :
He made him turn, and stop, and
To gallop and to trot the round,
He scarce could stand on any ground,
was so full of mettle.
When soon he met with Tomalin,
One that a valiant knight had been,
And to King Oberon of kin ;
he, " Thou manly Fairy,
Tell Oberon I come prepared,
Then bid him stand upon his guard
This hand his baseness shall reward,
him be ne'er so wary.
" Say to him thus, that I defy
His slanders and his infamy,
And as a mortal enemy
publicly proclaim him :
Withal that if I had mine own,
He should not wear the Fairy crown,
But with a vengeance should come
we a king should name him."
This Tomalin could not abide
To hear his sovereign vilified ;
But to the Fairy Court him hied
furiously he posted),
With everything Pigwiggen said :
How title to the crown he laid,
And in what arms he was arrayed,
how himself he boasted.
'Twixt head and foot, from point
He told the arming of each joint,
In every piece how neat and quaint,
Tomalin could do it :
How fair he sat, how sure he rid,
As of the courser he bestrid,
How managed, and how well he did
King which listened to it,
Quoth he, " Go, Tomalin, with speed,
Provide me arms, provide my steed,
And everything that I shall need
thee I will be guided ;
To straight account call thou thy
See there be wanting not a whit,
In everything see thou me fit,
as my foe 's provided."
Soon flew this news through Fairy-land,
Which gave Queen Mab to understand
The combat that was then in hand
those men so mighty :
Which greatly she began to rue,
Perceiving that all Fairy knew,
The first occasion from her grew
these affairs so weighty.
Wherefore attended with her maids,
Through fogs, and mists, and damps
she wades, 570
To Proserpine the Queen of Shades,
treat, that it would please her
The cause into her hands to take,
For ancient love and friendship's
And soon thereof an end to make,
of much care would ease her.
A while there let we Mab alone,
And come we to King Oberon,
Who, armed to meet his foe, is gone,
proud Pigwiggen crying :
Who sought the Fairy King as fast,
And had so well his journeys cast,
That he arrived at the last,
puissant foe espying.
Stout Tomalin came with the King,
Tom Thumb doth on Pigwiggen bring,
That perfect were in everything
single fights belonging :
And therefore they themselves engage
To see them exercise their rage
With fair and comely equipage,
one the other wronging.
So like in arms these champions were,
As they had been a very pair,
So that a man would almost swear
either had been either ;
Their furious steeds began to neigh,
That they were heard a mighty way
Their staves upon their rests they
ere they flew together,
Their seconds minister an oath,
Which was indifferent to them both,
That on their knightly faith and
magic them supplied ;
And sought them that they had no
Wherewith to work each other's harms,
But came with simple open arms
have their causes tried.
Together furiously they ran,
That to the ground came horse and
The blood out of their helmets span,
sharp were their encounters ;
And thought they to the earth were
Yet quickly they regained their
Such nimbleness was never show,
were two gallant mounters.
Then in a second course again,
They forward came with might and
Yet which had better of the twain,
seconds could not judge yet ;
Their shields were into pieces cleft,
Their helmets from their heads were
And to defend them nothing left,
champions would not budge yet.
Away from them their staves they
Their cruel swords they quickly
And freshly they the fight renew,
every stroke redoubled ;
Which made Proserpina take heed,
And make to them the greater speed,
For fear lest they too much should
wondrously her troubled.
When to the infernal Styx she goes,
She takes the fogs from thence that
And in a bag doth them enclose,
well she had them blended.
She hies her then to Lethe spring,
A bottle and thereof doth bring,
Wherewith she meant to work the
only she intended.
Now Proserpine with Mab is gone
Unto the place where Oberon
And proud Pigwiggen, one to one,
to be slain were likely :
And there themselves they closely
Because they would not be espied
For Proserpine meant to decide
matter very quickly.
And suddenly unties the poke,
Which out of it sent such a smoke,
As ready was them all to choke,
grievous was the pother ;
So that the knights each other lost,
And stood as still as any post ;
Tom Thumb nor Tomalin could boast
of any other.
But when the mist 'gan somewhat cease
Proserpina commandeth peace ;
And that a while they should release
other of their peril ;
" Which here," quoth she, " I do
To all in dreadful Pluto's name,
That as ye will eschew his blame,
let me hear the quarrel :
" But here yourselves you must engage
Somewhat to cool your spleenish
Your grievous thirst and to assuage
first you drink this liquor,
Which shall your understanding clear,
As plainly shall to you appear ;
Those things from me that you shall
much the quicker."
This Lethe water, you must know,
The memory destroyeth so,
That of our weal, or of our woe,
all remembrance blotted ;
Of it nor can you ever think ;
For they no sooner took this drink,
But nought into their brains could
what had them besotted.
King Oberon forgotten had
That he for jealousy ran mad,
But of his Queen was wondrous glad,
asked how they came thither :
Pigwiggen likewise doth forget
That he Queen Mab had ever met,
Or that they were so hard beset,
they were found together.
Nor neither of them both had thought
That e'er they had each other sought,
Much less that they a combat fought,
such a dream were loathing :
Tom Thumb had got a little sup,
And Tomalin scarce kissed the cup,
Yet had their brains so sure locked
they remembered nothing.
Queen Mab and her light maids, the
Amongst themselves do closely smile,
To see the King caught with this
one another jesting :
And to the Fairy Court they went
With mickle joy and merriment,
Which thing was done with good intent,
thus I left them feasting.