New Lamps for Old

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New Lamps for Old  (1899) 
by C. V. Godby
Cassells Magazine-Vol 29-144.jpg

WAS Christmas-tide, and evergreens
Shrouded the pictures on the wall:
Hushed was the sportive throng awhile
Amid the old ancestral hall,
When climbed a blue-eyed child upon my knee,
And sadly thus began to question me:

“Father,” she said, “I want to know
Why sister Jane said yesterday
That fairies, elves, and goblins queer
No longer sport about and play
Among the moonlit ruins old, or where
The greener rings their presence still declare?

“Dear father, say it isn’t true
That Cinderella’s gone away,
That fairy godmothers no more
Bring gifts of coach and horses grey,
Or that the darling, bold, adventurous Jack
Has climbed his beanstalk never to come back?

“Is there no wondrous lamp whose touch
Will call the ready genie up?
And does that other valiant Jack
No more with stupid giants sup?
No shoes of swiftness, and no shining blade,
Prompt to be drawn for captive Princess’ aid?”

Cassells Magazine-Vol 29-145.jpg

She stopped and sighed, that sunny maid,
With childhood’s yearning in her eye
To penetrate beyond the veil
Of Cloudland’s dreamy fantasy.
Reply I must; yet how, with clumsy touch,
To steer between too little and too much?

“Darling,” I said, “the fairies change,
Folk say, their names from time to time:
Our older friends, perhaps, have gone
To gambol in some sunnier clime,
And sent us here their children or their friends,
Who with new names pursue the selfsame ends.

“There’s one bright elf, Electra named,
Slave of the Carbon Arc, whose ray
Will pierce a house, or write on screens
Pictures of actions far away;
Or bring two friends, five hundred miles apart,
So close that voice greets voice and heart greets heart.

“And Pressman Jack does still pursue
Old Giant Dulness’ stupid lies
With wire-clad shoes that skim the earth,
And daring aims that climb the skies;
Though cackling hens sometimes his plan upset,
And lyres, too—not spelt quite the same—are met.

“And bravery and truth are found
With skill and wisdom still, combined—
All the old friends, my darling child,
Leagued against matter with the mind:
They yet maintain the everlasting fight
With foes of darkness striving for the light.”

I paused: I saw a frown o’erspread,
A little frown of thoughtfulness,
Across the maiden’s sunny brow
Where larger thoughts began to press:
A little sigh upheaved her tender breast,
“Father,” she said. “I like the old fairies best.”

This work is in the public domain in the United States because it was published before January 1, 1927. It may be copyrighted outside the U.S. (see Help:Public domain).