Amy Lowell

Here you will find the Poem A Fairy Tale of poet Amy Lowell

A Fairy Tale

On winter nights beside the nursery fire 
We read the fairy tale, while glowing coals 
Builded its pictures. There before our eyes 
We saw the vaulted hall of traceried stone 
Uprear itself, the distant ceiling hung 
With pendent stalactites like frozen vines; 
And all along the walls at intervals, 
Curled upwards into pillars, roses climbed, 
And ramped and were confined, and clustered leaves 
Divided where there peered a laughing face. 
The foliage seemed to rustle in the wind, 
A silent murmur, carved in still, gray stone. 
High pointed windows pierced the southern wall 
Whence proud escutcheons flung prismatic fires 
To stain the tessellated marble floor 
With pools of red, and quivering green, and blue; 
And in the shade beyond the further door, 
Its sober squares of black and white were hid 
Beneath a restless, shuffling, wide-eyed mob 
Of lackeys and retainers come to view 
The Christening. 
A sudden blare of trumpets, and the throng 
About the entrance parted as the guests 
Filed singly in with rare and precious gifts. 
Our eager fancies noted all they brought, 
The glorious, unattainable delights! 
But always there was one unbidden guest 
Who cursed the child and left it bitterness. 

The fire falls asunder, all is changed, 
I am no more a child, and what I see 
Is not a fairy tale, but life, my life. 
The gifts are there, the many pleasant things: 
Health, wealth, long-settled friendships, with a name 
Which honors all who bear it, and the power 
Of making words obedient. This is much; 
But overshadowing all is still the curse, 
That never shall I be fulfilled by love! 
Along the parching highroad of the world 
No other soul shall bear mine company. 
Always shall I be teased with semblances, 
With cruel impostures, which I trust awhile 
Then dash to pieces, as a careless boy 
Flings a kaleidoscope, which shattering 
Strews all the ground about with coloured sherds. 
So I behold my visions on the ground 
No longer radiant, an ignoble heap 
Of broken, dusty glass. And so, unlit, 
Even by hope or faith, my dragging steps 
Force me forever through the passing days.