The Fairy Changeling

The Fairy Changeling

by Dora Sigerson Shorter, 1897

Featured in The Fairy Changeling and Other poems


Fairy changeling


Dermod O’Byrne of Omah town

In his garden strode up and down;

He pulled his beard, and he beat his breast;

And this is his trouble and woe confessed:


“The good-folk came in the night, and they

Have stolen my bonny wean away;

Have put in his place a changeling,

A weashy, weakly, wizen thing!


“From the speckled hen nine eggs I stole,

And lighting a fire of a glowing coal,

I fried the shells, and I spilt the yolk;

But never a word the stranger spoke:


“A bar of metal I heated red

To frighten the fairy from its bed,

To put in the place of this fretting wean

My own bright beautiful boy again.


“But my wife had hidden it in her arms,

And cried ‘For shame!’ on my fairy charms;

She sobs, with the strange child on her breast:

‘I love the weak, wee babe the best!’”


To Dermod O’Byrne’s, the tale to hear,

The neighbours came from far and near:

Outside his gate, in the long boreen,

They crossed themselves, and said between


Their muttered prayers, “He has no luck!

For sure the woman is fairy-struck,

To leave her child a fairy guest,

And love the weak, wee wean the best!”



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