The American Review: A Whig Journal of Politics, Literature, Art, and Science/Volume 02/November 1845/Elfland

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Into the pleasant Land
My portals open wide,
Where life is all a Holiday
From morn to even tide.
A soft purpureal atmosphere
Above its plains is hung,
A summer Noon and Twilight fused
And mingled into one.

From all its bounds the turbaned Cock
Is banished far away.
As erst he was from Sybaris,[1]
Where drowsy people Jay,
Indulging drowsy phantasies.
Long after break of day.
The Cricket's wiry song by night,
By day the Humble Bee's,
The loudest noises are that float
Upon the Elfin breeze.

Within this land, a multitude
Of shadowy people dwell.
Whose words and deeds, in upper air,
Men never cease to tell.

The Welsh king, Arthur, and his Court,
Have woned long ages here.
With Launcelot, the paramour
Of faithless Guenevere.

Here Jacques, the kindly misanthrope,
Who lived in Ardennes' shade,
Is seen with all the company
That there their dwellings made :
Removed beyond the Sabbath chime.
Far in the gloomy wold,
Unvexed by care, they fleet the time.
As in the Age of Gold.

That merry knot is also here.
Of fabling Florentines,[2]
Who feasted while the Arno flowed
Plague-purpled through its vines.
The love of story, wine and song.
They had in Tuscan land.
Still warms their breasts, though ferried o'er
Unto the Fairy Strand.

Here, too, the great Manchegan Don
Reposes 'neath his bays.
Who roamed the wilds of tawny Spain,
In quest of knightly praise.
Stretched on the banks of Elfin streams,
With antique knights, he lies.
And talks through all the live-long day.
Of many an old emprise.

Here sages dwell, whose names adorn
The mediaeval days,
In lonely turrets, lighted by
The midnight taper-blaze;
And pilgrims old, strange sights that saw
On many a foreign strand.
Such as Venezia's wanderer,[3]
Beloved of Kubla Khan.

But far the greatest miracle
That Fairy Land can show,
A Hostel is like that which stood
In Eastcheap long ago.
Before the entrance in the blast
There swings a tusky sign,[4]
And when at night the Elfin Moon
And Constellations' shine,
A ruddy glow illumes the panes.
And looking through you see.
With merry faces, seated round,
A famous company.

Prince Hal the royal wassailer.
And that great fount of fun,
Diana's portly forester.
The merry knight Sir John;
With all their losel servitors.
Mirth-reeling cheek by cheek,
Cambysean Pistol, Peto, Poins,
And Bardolph's fiery beak.


  1. The Sybarites, who lived in a hollow, were late risers, and they ostracised Chanticleer as a nuisance. It was unlawful in the same city, for braziers and smiths, of all kinds, to work, except with muffled hammers.
  2. The interlocutors in Boccaccio's enchanting Decameron.
  3. Marco Polo.
  4. Boar's Head.