Verse > Anthologies > > Arthur Quiller-Couch, ed. > The Oxford Book of Victorian Verse
Arthur Quiller-Couch, comp.  The Oxford Book of Victorian Verse.  1922.
The Last Fairy
By Rosamund Marriott Watson (1860–1911)
UNDER the yellow moon, when the young men and maidens pass in the lanes,
Outcast I flit, looking down through the leaves of the elm-trees,
Peering out over the fields as their voices grow fainter;
Furtive and lone
Sometimes I steal through the green rushes down by the river,        5
Hearing shrill laughter and song while the rosy-limb’d bathers
Gleam in the dusk.
Seen, they would pass me disdainful, or stone me unwitting;
No room is left in their hearts for my kinsfolk or me.
Fain would I, too, fading out like a moth in the twilight,        10
Follow my kin,
Whither I know not, and ever I seek but I find not—
Whither I know not, nor knoweth the wandering swallow;
‘Where are they, where?’
Oft-times I cry; but I hearken in vain for their footsteps,        15
Always in vain.
High in a last year’s nest, in the boughs of the pine-tree,
Musing I sit, looking up to the deeps of the sky,
Clasping my knees as I watch there and wonder, forsaken;
Ever the hollow sky        20
Voiceless and vast, and the golden moon silently sailing,
Look on my pain and they care not,
There is none that remembers:
Only the nightingale knows me—she knows and remembers—
Deep in the dusk of the thicket she sorrows for me.        25
Yet, on the wings of the wind sweeping over the uplands,
Fitfully borne,
Murmuring echoes remember’d—the ghosts of old voices
Faint as a dream, and uncertain as cloud-shadow’d sunlight,
Fall on mine ear.        30
Whence do they call me? From golden-dew’d valleys forgotten?
Or from the strongholds of eld, where red banners of sunset
Flame o’er the sea?
Or from anear, on the dim airy slopes of the dawn-world,
Over light-flowering meads between daybreak and sunrise        35
Level and grey?
Truly I know not, but steadfast and longing I listen,
Straining mine ears for the lilt of their tinkling laughter
Sweeter than sheep-bells at even;—I watch and I hearken.
O for the summons to sound!—for the pipes plaining shrilly,        40
Calling me home!

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