Friday, June 19, 2009

Mabel On Midsummer Day

Dear Reader,

Midsummer Day (June 21st) will be upon us soon, and the girls are busily preparing their annual Fairy Feast. Do you set out a feast for the wee folk at your house? We've done it for quite a few years now, after being inspired by "Mrs. Sharp's Traditions." Simply stated, if you leave a feast for the fairies, they will leave you a little fairy treat in exchange.

Here's what the girls have ready so far:

Audrey's fairies will make themselves merry in a corner of the yard~

While Tasha's will enjoy the view under the crab apple tree.

And AnnaMarie's fairy friends will be treated to a canopied hideaway~

With a cozy bed inside!

Here's a little reading we found in an old book of Mary Howitt's poetry, entitled "Mabel On Midsummer Day". We hope you like it, and share it with your family, if you wish.

Mabel on Midsummer Day

a story of the olden time.

Part I.

"Arise, my maiden, Mabel,"
The mother said, "arise,"
For the golden sun of Midsummer
Is shining in the skies.

"Arise, my little maiden,
For thou must speed away,
To wait upon thy grandmother
This livelong summer day.

"And thou must carry with thee
This wheaten cake so fine;
This new-made pat of butter;
This little flask of wine!

"And tell the dear old body,
This day I cannot come,
For the good man went out yester morn,
And he is not come home.

"And more than this, poor Amy
Upon my knee doth lie;
I fear me, with this fever-pain
That little child will die!

"And thou canst help thy grandmother;
The table thou canst spread;
Can'st feed the little dog and bird,
And thou can'st make her bed.

"And thou can'st fetch the water,
From the lady-well hard by;
And thou can'st gather from the wood
The fagots brown and dry.

"Can'st go down to the lonesome glen,
To milk the mother-ewe;
This is the work, my Mabel,
That thou wilt have to do.

"But listen now, my Mabel,
This is Midsummer Day,
When all the fairy people
From elf-land come away.

"And when thou art in lonesome glen,
Keep by the running burn,
And do not pluck the strawberry-flower,
Nor break the lady-fern.

"But think not of the fairy folk,
Lest mischief should befall;
Think only of poor Amy,
And how thou lov'st us all.

"Yet keep good heart, my Mabel,
If thou the fairies see,
And give them kindly answer,
If they should speak to thee.

"And when into the fir-wood
Thou go'st for fagots brown,
Do not, like idle children,
Go wandering up and down.

"But, fill thy little apron,
My child, with earnest speed;
And that thou break no living bough
Within the wood, take heed.

"For they are spiteful brownies
Who in the wood abide,
So be thou careful of this thing,
Lest evil should betide.

"But think not, little Mabel,
Whilst thou art in the wood,
Of dwarfish, willful brownies,
But of the Father good.

"And when thou goest to the spring,
To fetch the water thence,
Do not disturb the little stream,
Lest this should give offence.

"For the queen of all the fairies
She loves that water bright;
I've seen her drinking there myself
On many a summer night.

"But she's a gracious lady,
And her thou need'st not fear;
Only disturb thou not the stream,
Nor spill the water clear!"

"Now all this will I heed, mother,
Will no word disobey,
And wait upon the grandmother
This livelong summer day!"


Part II.

Away tripped little Mabel,
With the wheaten cakes so fine;
With the new-made pat of butter,
And the little flask of wine.

And long before the sun was hot,
And morning mists had cleared,
Beside the good old grandmother
The willing child appeared.

And all her mother's message
She told with right good-will,
How that the father was away,
And the little child was ill.

And then she swept the hearth up clean,
And then the table spread;
And next she fed the dog and bird,
And then she made the bed.

"And go now," said the grandmother,
"Ten paces down the dell,
And bring in water for the day;
Thou know'st the lady-well!"

The first time that good Mabel went,
Nothing at all saw she
Except a bird--a sky-blue bird--
That sate upon a tree.

The next time that good Mabel went,
There sate a lady bright
Beside the well,-- a lady small,
All clothed in green and white.

A curtsey low made Mabel,
And then she stooped to fill
Her pitcher at the sparkling spring,
But no drop did she spill.

"Thou art a handy maiden,
The fairy lady said;
"Thou has not spilled a drop, nor yet
The fair spring troubled!

"And for this thing which thou has done,
Yet may'st not understand,
I give to thee a better gift
Than houses or than land.

"Thou shalt do well, whate'er thou dost,
As thou hast done this day;
Shalt have the will and power to please,
And shalt be loved alway!"

Thus having said, she passed from sight,
And naught could Mabel see,
But the little bird, the sky-blue bird
Upon the leafy tree.

--"And now go," said the grandmother,
"And fetch in fagots dry;
All in the neighboring fir-wood,
Beneath the trees they lie."

Away went kind, good Mabel,
Into the fir-wood near,
Where all the ground was dry and brown,
And the grass grew thin and sere.

She did not wander up and down,
Nor yet a live branch pull,
But steadily, of the fallen boughs
She picked her apron full.

And when the wild-wood brownies
Came sliding to her mind,
She drove them thence, as she was told,
With home-thoughts sweet and kind.

But all that while the brownies
Within the fir-wood still,
They watched her how she picked the wood,
And strove to do no ill.

"And oh, but she is small and neat,"
Said one, "'twere shame to spite
A creature so demure and meek,
A creature harmless quite!"

"Look only," said another,
"At her little gown of blue;
At her kerchief pinned about her head,
And at her little shoe!"

"Oh, but she is a comely child,"
Said a third, "and we will lay
A good-luck penny in her path,
A boon for her this day,---
Seeing she broke no living wood,
No live thing did affray."

With that the smallest penny,
Of the finest silver ore,
Upon the dry and slippery path,
Lay Mabel's feet before.

With joy she picked the penny up,
The fairy penny good;
And with her fagots dry and brown
Went wondering from the wood.

"Now she has that," said the brownies,
"Let flax be ever so dear,
Will buy her clothes of the very best,
For many and many a year!"

--"And go, now," said the grandmother,
Since falling is the dew,
Go down into the lonesome glen,
And milk the mother-ewe!"

All down into the lonesome glen,
Through copses thick and wild;
Through moist, rank grass, by trickling streams,
Went on the willing child.

And when she came to lonesome glen,
She kept beside the burn,
And neither plucked the strawberry-flower,
Nor broke the lady-fern.

And while she milked the mother-ewe
Within the lonesome glen,
She wished that little Amy
Were strong and well again.

And soon as she had thought this thought,
She heard a coming sound,
As if a thousand fairy folk
Were gathering all around.

And then she heard a little voice,
Shrill as the midge's wing,
That spake aloud, "A human child
Is here-- yet mark this thing!

"The lady-fern is all unbroke,
The strawberry-flower unta-en!
What shall be done for her, who still
From mischief can refrain?"

"Give her a fairy-cake," said one,
"Grand her a wish," said three;
"The latest wish that she hath wished,"
Said all, "whate'er it be!"

--Kind Mabel heard the words they spake,
And from the lonesome glen,
Unto the good old grandmother
Went gladly back again.

Thus happened it to Mabel
On that midsummer day,
And these three fairy blessings
She took with her away.

--'Tis good to make all duty sweet,
To be alert and kind:
'Tis good, like little Mabel,
To have a willing mind!

~Mary Howitt




  1. How lovely!!! This is a wonderful tradition and something I would like to take up with my girls! Thanks for sharing and the little places are very lovely!

  2. We have Mrs Sharp's book also. We love reading it and getting a few ideas. Maybe I will sit with Grace tonight and see if she wants to make something for the fairies.

  3. Lovely, when I was a young girl I was always off chasing Fairies and leprechauns on my grandmother's farm. I once found a whole patch of four leaf clovers and waited for hours for the leprechaun to arrive. He fooled me though he never did show up! I thought for sure I was going to get his gold!!
    Have a blessed weekend enjoy all your fairies and blooms ~;-) Heather

  4. What a delightful post, Marqueta!
    Your childrens Fairy Feast and gifts are splendid! And the Story of "Mable on Midsummer Day" is charming. Thank you for sharing!

  5. Fairies have always been so close to my heart! What a delightful activity! I love the beautiful imaginations of your dear children. Thank you for sharing!

  6. Dear Marqueta, we love faeries! I wish we had planned to have a faery feast. :) Maybe next year.

    Michaela and I just read the entire poem. I didn't want to comment until we had read it. It was very sweet. My oldest son was sitting close by and asked who wrote it when we were done. I didn't even know he was listening. I told him and he said, "That was good."


    PS - I love the feasts your girls have set out.

  7. Oooooo!! That was "FAIRY" enjoyable!!


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