The Leprechaun; or Fairy Shoemaker

Here’s a poem about a man who tries to catch a Leprechaun so he can become rich!  It was written by the Irish poet William Allingham (1824–1889).  I’ve included definitions of any uncommon words below the poem.  After that you can hear a recording of it.

The Leprechaun or Fairy Shoemaker

I.image

Little Cowboy, what have you heard,
  Up on the lonely rath’s green mound?
Only the plaintive yellow bird
  Sighing in sultry fields around,
Chary, chary, chary, chee-ee!–
Only the grasshopper and the bee?–
    "Tip-tap, rip-rap,
    Tick-a-tack-too!
  Scarlet leather, sewn together,
    This will make a shoe.
  Left, right, pull it tight;
    Summer days are warm;
  Underground in winter,
    Laughing at the storm!
Lay your ear close to the hill.
Do you not catch the tiny clamour,
Busy click of an elfin hammer,
Voice of the Leprechaun singing shrill
  As he merrily plies his trade?
    He’s a span
      And a quarter in height.
Get him in sight, hold him tight,
      And you’re a made
        Man!

II.

You watch your cattle the summer day,
Sup on potatoes, sleep in the hay;
  How would you like to roll in your carriage.
  Look for a duchess’s daughter in marriage?
Seize the Shoemaker–then you may!
    "Big boots a-hunting,
    Sandals in the hall,
  White for a wedding-feast,
    Pink for a ball.
  This way, that way,
    So we make a shoe;
  Getting rich every stitch,
    Tick-tack-too!"
Nine-and-ninety treasure-crocks
This keen miser-fairy hath,
Hid in mountains, woods, and rocks,
Ruin and round-tow’r, cave and rath,
  And where the cormorants build;
    From times of old
    Guarded by him;
    Each of them fill’d
    Full to the brim
      With gold!

III.

I caught him at work one day, myself,
  In the castle-ditch, where foxglove grows,–
A wrinkled, wizen’d and bearded Elf,
  Spectacles stuck on his pointed nose,
  Silver buckles to his hose,
  Leather apron-shot in his lap–
      "Rip-rap, tip-tap,
      Tick-tack-too!
    (A grasshopper on my cap!
       Away the moth flew!)
    Buskins for a fairy prince,
      Brogues for his son,–
    Pay me well, pay me well,
      When the job is done! "
The rogue was mine, beyond a doubt.
I stared at him; he stared at me;
"Servant, Sir!" "Humph!" says he,
  And pull’d a snuff-box out.
He took a long pinch, look’d better pleased,
  The queer little Lepracaun;
Offer’d the box with a whimsical grace,-
Pouf! he flung the dust in my face,
    And, while I sneezed,
      Was gone!

*****
Definitions:

Rath -  A Ringfort (a circular enclosure surrounded by a wall made of dirt.)
A Span – Usually 9 inches
Cormorant – A type of large bird
Buskins – A high boot made of fabric or leather
Brogues – A type of strong shoe with perforated ornamentation in the leather.

Image: Wikipedia Copyleft

This article was posted on Wednesday, May 16th, 2012 at 4:48 pm and is filed under Countries & Cultures, England, English, Ireland, Languages, Poems, Poetry, United Kingdom. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.

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