Reference > Anthologies > Warner, et al., eds. > The Library > Verse

C.D. Warner, et al., comp.  The Library of the World’s Best Literature.
An Anthology in Thirty Volumes.  1917.
Ballade on the Mysterious Hosts of the Forests
By Théodore de Banville (1823–1891)
From ‘The Caryatids’: Translation of Andrew Lang

STILL sing the mocking fairies, as of old,
  Beneath the shade of thorn and holly-tree;
The west wind breathes upon them pure and cold,
  And still wolves dread Diana roving free,
  In secret woodland with her company.        5
’Tis thought the peasants’ hovels know her rite
When now the wolds are bathed in silver light,
  And first the moonrise breaks the dusky gray;
Then down the dells, with blown soft hair and bright,
  And through the dim wood, Dian thrids her way.        10
With water-weeds twined in their locks of gold
  The strange cold forest-fairies dance in glee;
Sylphs over-timorous and over-bold
  Haunt the dark hollows where the dwarf may be,
  The wild red dwarf, the nixies’ enemy:        15
Then, ’mid their mirth and laughter and affright,
The sudden goddess enters, tall and white,
  With one long sigh for summers passed away;
The swift feet tear the ivy nets outright,
  And through the dim wood Dian thrids her way.        20
She gleans her sylvan trophies; down the wold
  She hears the sobbing of the stags that flee,
Mixed with the music of the hunting rolled,
  But her delight is all in archery,
  And naught of ruth and pity wotteth she        25
More than the hounds that follow on the flight;
The tall nymph draws a golden bow of might,
  And thick she rains the gentle shafts that slay;
She tosses loose her locks upon the night,
  And through the dim wood Dian thrids her way.        30
Prince, let us leave the din, the dust, the spite,
The gloom and glare of towns, the plague, the blight;
  Amid the forest leaves and fountain spray
There is the mystic home of our delight,
  And through the dim wood Dian thrids her way.        35

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