The Fairie’s Farewell

by Richard Corbett

Farewell, rewards and fairies,
Good housewives now may say,
For now foul sluts in dairies
Do fare as well as they.
And though they sweep their hearths no less
Than maids were wont to do,
Yet who of late, for cleanliness,
Finds sixpence in her shoe?

Lament, lament, old Abbeys,
The fairies’ lost command;
They did but change priests’ babies,
But some have changed your land!
And all your children sprung from thence
Are now grown Puritans,
Who live as changelings ever since,
For love of your domains.

At morning and at evening both
You merry were and glad;
So little care of sleep or sloth
These pretty ladies had;
When Tom came home from labor,
Or Ciss to milking rose,
Then merrily went their tabor
And nimbly went their toes.

Witness those rings and roundelays
Of theirs, which yet remain,
Were footed in Queen Mary’s days
On many a grassy plain;
But since of late, Elizabeth
And, later, James came in,
They never danced on any heath
As when the time hath been.

By which we note the fairies
Were of the old profession:
Their songs were Ave-Maries,
Their dances were procession.
But now, alas! they all are dead,
Or gone beyond the seas;
Or farther for religion fled;
Or else they take their ease.

A tell-tale in their company
They never could endure;
And whoso kept not secretly
Their mirth, was punished sure;
It was a most just Christian deed
To pinch such black and blue:
Oh, how the Commonwealth doth need
Such justices as you!