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Poem by Menella Bute Smedley

A Slight Confusion

What's the use of fairies? said the child,
What's the use of fairies at all?
The weeds in my garden grow wild,
And I've lost my favourite ball;
My poor little bird is dead,
They won't let me milk the cow,
And this lesson will never be said,
For I ought to be learning it now!

If fairies were like fairies, you know,
Of the least bit of use or good,
The weeds would just die as they grow,
And my ball jump out of the wood;
My birdie would live again,
I'd find the cow in my bed,
And this lesson that gives me such pain,
Would grow of itself in my head.
So she sat down on the floor to cry,
The dear little sensible thing!
And the fairies made no reply,
Not even so much as to sing!
She heard a moo as she sat,
A moo, I say, not a mia-u,
And she cried, Why that is not the cat,
But it never can be the cow!

The door flew open with such a bang,
And the cow came careering through,
The pail on her bright horns she swang,
Milk me quickly, she cried; pray do!
The child stood up in amaze,
And said, with a timid laugh,
Well, surely, of all the queer plays,
This play is the queerest by half!
But the cow kept running round and round,
Like a cow that was quite distraught,
And she mooed with a dreadful sound,
No moo that her poor mother taught.
The child sprang up on a chair,
Crying, Oh, cow, please don't!

But the cow career'd through the air,
Replying, Is it likely I won't?
At that moment the poor little bird,
That was lying dead in its cage,
Call'd out, You're enough, on my word,
To put a dead bird in a rage!
The weeds in her garden knock'd
On the window, they'd grown so tall,
And laugh'd when they saw she look'd shock'd,
And she thought that the worst of all!
Then the grammar she held in her hand
Dropp'd down on the floor with a jar,
And she murmur'd, I don't understand;
How troublesome all the things are!

She rubb'd her eyes, and she said,
As she took a frighten'd peep,
The cow's not here, and the bird is dead,
And I fancy I've been asleep!
And a fairy, all beauty and light,
Reproachfully perch'd on her ear,
And gave it a sharp little bite,
Till she scream'd out with pain and fear.
But the fairy cried, Alas!
Why didst thou utter abuse?
The world has come to a pretty pass,
When fairies are called of no use!
Little girl, thou must thy part fulfil,
If we're to take kindly to ours:

Then pull up the weeds with a will,
And fairies will cherish the flowers;
Feed thy poor prisoner, the bird,
Or fairies its spirit will free;
Learn of thy lesson each difficult word,
And fairies will smile upon thee.
73:Said the child, I don't understand, quite,
There surely is something forgot,
Are fairies permitted to bite?
Or is it a dream, or what?
What is the moral? and why?
The cow alone should be blamed
The fairy takes ground extremely high,
But I don't feel a bit ashamed!

Menella Bute Smedley

Menella Bute Smedley's other poems:
  1. The Little Fair Soul
  2. A Prayer for One Beloved
  3. The Little Queen
  4. The Tournament
  5. The Lay of King James I in his Captivity

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