Thursday, April 17, 2008

The Faery Foster-Mother by William Cosmo Monkhouse

The Faery Foster-Mother

Bright Eyes, Light Eyes! Daughter of a Fay!
I had not been a wedded wife a twelvemonth and a day,
I had not nurs’d my little one a month upon my knee,
When down among the blue-bell banks rose elfins three times three,
They gripp’d me by the raven hair, I could not cry for fear,
They put a hempen rope around my waist and dragg’d me here,
They made me sit and give thee suck as mortal mothers can,
Bright Eyes, Light Eyes! strange and weak and wan!

Dim Face, Grim Face! lie ye there so still?
Thy red, red lips are at my breast, and thou may’st suck thy fill;
But know ye, tho’ I hold thee firm, and rock thee to and fro,
‘Tis not to soothe thee into sleep, but just to still my woe?
And know ye, when I lean so calm against the wall of stone,
‘Tis when I shut my eyes and try to think thou art mine own?
And know ye, tho’ my milk be here, my heart is far away,
Dim Face, Grim Face! Daughter of a Fay!

Gold Hair, Cold Hair! Daughter to a King!
Wrapp’d in bands of snow-white silk with jewels glittering,
Tiny slippers of the gold upon thy feet so thin,
Silver cradle velvet-lin’d for thee to slumber in,
Pygmy pages, crimson-hair’d, to serve thee on their knees,
To fan thy face with ferns and bring thee honey bags of bees,—
I was but a peasant lass, my babe had but the milk,
Gold Hair, Cold Hair! raimented in silk!

Pale Thing, Frail Thing! dumb and weak and thin,
Altho’ thou ne’er dost utter sigh thou’rt shadow’d with a sin;
Thy minnie scorns to suckle thee, thy minnie is an elf,
Upon a bed of rose’s-leaves she lies and fans herself;
And though my heart is aching so for one afar from me,
I often look into thy face and drop a tear for thee,
And I am but a peasant born, a lowly cotter’s wife,
Pale Thing, Frail Thing! sucking at my life!

Weak Thing, Meek Thing! take no blame from me,
Altho’ my babe may moan for lack of what I give to thee;
For though thou art a faery child, and though thou art my woe,
To feel thee sucking at my breast is all the bliss I know;
It soothes me, tho’ afar away I hear my daughter call,
My heart were broken if I felt no little lips at all!
If I had none to tend at all, to be its nurse and slave,
Weak Thing, Meek Thing! I should shriek and rave!

Bright Eyes, Light Eyes! lying on my knee!
If soon I be not taken back unto mine own countree,
To feel my own babe’s little lips, as I am feeling thine,
To smooth the golden threads of hair, to see the blue eyes shine,—
I ’ll lean my head against the wall and close my weary eyes,
And think my own babe draws the milk with balmy pants and sighs,
And smile and bless my little one and sweetly pass away,
Bright Eyes, Light Eyes! Daughter of a Fay!
--William Cosmo Monkhouse

Such a sad poem. Especially since I spend so much time nursing nowadays. I hope somebody took care of her baby while she was gone.

I wanted to tell this very cute story:

Peter was holding Elizabeth when he noticed she was staring very intently at the arm of the couch. When she does this, we sometimes move her closer so she can touch whatever it is she's staring at. She does what my books describe as a raking grab -- kind of like she's scratching it with four fingers. It's hard to tell if he expects things like striped couch cushions to be grabbable, or if that's just the only way she knows how to touch and feel things right now.

Anyway, he moved her close to the arm, and I started filming with the camera. She grabbed at the remote control that was lying there, and merely succeeded in knocking it off. Peter thought this was hilarious. After I stopped filming and she'd knocked over the other remote too, he said, "Baby, you have 0 DEX!" It was very funny.

As you can see from the video, she may have 0 DEX, but her CHR is pretty darn high (is 18 the highest you can get? I've forgotten). I tried to find a D&D poem, but sifting through all that bad filk and all those character class haikus for something worth posting was too daunting a task for me today.


  1. I'll confess that I skipped over the poem and went right to stuff about Elizabeth. Cute video. I must admit that I don't have the foggiest idea what CHR is or what 18 has to do with it. Apparently Helena does. :-)

  2. I intentionally left that ambiguous so it would be funnier to people who get the joke. In the game Dungeons&Dragons, each player's character has various attributes like DEXterity and CHaRisma. You roll dice to see how many points (between 0 and 18) you get for each attribute and it tells what your character will be good at for the rest of the game.

    Someone with high DEXterity could do acrobatic feats and pick locks, someone with high STRength could be a good fighter and hit hard, someone with high CHaRisma could convince other people to do what they said.

    So Elizabeth has 0 DEX -- she can't pick things up, or even touch them easily -- but she has 18 (the highest) CHR 'cause she's so cute.

  3. ps: it's ok to skip the poems. They're mostly there for my amusement in journal posts like this one.

  4. How fun. She certainly has very high CHR. We laughed at/with our
    babies a lot too. We just couldn't help it. I remember Helena's first
    attempts at putting cheerios in her mouth. She was in her high chair
    and would do the raking grasp to try to pick them up. Then when she
    finally got one into her hand her thumb would go into her mouth

    Babies are so entertaining.

    Love, K

    p.s. I do read the poems most of the time--especially if they are
    short--and usually enjoy them.

  5. I was just thinking the other day about what a cute baby Peter was and how when Betsey was born I was sure that girl babies couldn't possibly be as cute as boy babies. ;)