The Faerie Ring
I laid me down to sleep away The remnants of a smoky day, My lungs still full of resinís golden dope. 'Twas late summer, leaves not yet yellow, The air, like me, was warm and mellow, As I inhaled more of that rainbow smoke. 'Twas there I met the faerie folk Conjured by the wreaths of smoke Which hung about my head in crowns of thorn. I lay within their faerie ring Where at night they liked to sing And where they had their summer dancing lawn. From each pale toadstool sprang an elf, Each introduced, by name, itself, And joining hands they danced a sarabande, While faeries shy and satyrs sly, From the shadowed woods did prance and fly, And joined the dancing circle hand in hand. Pan upon his pipes of reed, Played plaintive notes and I took heed, As dryads joined the throng of beasts of myth, To stately galliard and merry dance The faerie folk did step and prance, Till I grew dizzy with their careless frenzy. Pan changed his tune, a wilder theme From his pleasant pipes did stream And ever faster spun the whirling dancers. Then all at once, the dancing ceased, The elves bowed low, their faces creased In smiles which held me totally entranced. A faerie called in lilting voice, She piped my name and left no choice But I would join the ring and take my place, Whereupon the music spun; A melody weaved well by Pan, And then the dance began to pick up pace. In wild arhythm the satyrs stepped, Through rings of smoke the dryads leapt, Pan piped his tunes and gauzy colours swirled; I danced minuet, a wild gavotte, A whirling waltz, a fey foxtrot As the ethereal music shrieked and skirled. A hundred voices chanted, sang, About the meadow elflings sprang And sprightly sprites and nymphs grew ever bolder, Leaping through the air, on high. With wicked twinkles in each eye Were wicked whisperers seated on my shoulder. The frantic beat of faerie drums, Through the charged air throbbed and thrummed And elven feet beat out the urgent tune, For though I had not seen the light Fade into grey, then black of night I saw the shimmer of the argent moon Rise full and shining through the mists, To pour fair moonbeams Ďpon the myth, Upon the faerie ring and faerie folk. I gazed in awe as Luna swam, In velvet night, and voices sang Piping plainsongs weaving with my smoke. From every throat a chorus poured, To accompany their open awe, And then the wild arhythm began anew; With whirling faeries, leaping, bounding, Pipes fluting music, tabors pounding As the ring of dancers greater grew. With shrieks of joy and wild song, Others joined the spinning throng, Fauns and naiads, maeneds high on wine. Bacchus laughed and in the glow Of gentle moonbeams, raw wine flowed And I completely lost my sense of time. A hearty voice spoke in my ear As the wine god did appear To offer me the fruits of vintnerís craft; Sweet berry wines; intoxicating, Raw rye spirit; invigorating, I drank deep and bearded Bacchus laughed. On grapes and raisins then we dined, Washed down with draughts of ruby wine, And then the merry party grew more wild; Elves laughed and bared their pointed fangs In dire voices naiads sang, And drunken Bacchus poured more wine and smiled. At me he pointed, made strange gestures, Spoke in terms that were obscure; His maened minions made haste to do his will, Their clothes in shreds from wineís excesses, And vines entwined in raven tresses They converged like jackals to a kill; They shrieked obscenely, eyes red-rimmed Their wild black tangles argent limned, Painted fingernails like cruel daggers unsheathed, Into a shrieking dance they swung, Baring wicked curving fangs As mulberry lips pulled back from thirsty teeth. The faeries danced a waltz of woe To Panís haunting pipe solo And drums that beat a low funereal dirge, While music maddened maeneds seek Human flesh with claw and teeth In response to Bacchusí unspoke urge. Pan bowed low, his goats tail twitching, His horn-ed face strange and bewitching His cloven hooves danced patterns in the grass "'Tis time, 'tis time, for merry thrills Time to do as Bacchus wills!" He cried striking up a tuneful reckless dance. Ever faster leapt the fiends To his dizzy-making dancing themes, Their shrieks resounding in the velvet night Elven faces laughed in glee At my sad perplexity As faces blurred and whirled in my eyesight. The vicious faeriesí drunken mood Could only be assuaged by blood The satyrs tripped me with their cloven feet As I stumbled, drink-sodden, round The faeriesí dancing ground While maeneds sought me with their bone-white teeth. At blistering speed the scene revolved, A maze of faeries, dryads, elves Darting back and forth before my dazzled eyes To block each hoped escape. Between the fungi, faeries capered Ready for the human sacrifice. The music shrieked to a crescendo Ever faster dancers go Spiralling inwards to converge on me, With painted claw and sharp white tooth, Once Iíd realised the truth And found Iíd nowhere left that I could flee. In the east the pale dawn breaks And soaked in dew my body wakes Sprawled within a mystic faerie ring, Was it a dream or did I really Dance with sprites and was I nearly Torn by maeneds while the elves did sing? Among the dew drops on the short turf, Pressed into the night damp dark earth Were the prints of cloven, dancing hooves; Did Panís dancers really tread Upon this dewy summer meadow With me among the whirling faerie troupe?