The Sources and Analogues of 'A Midsummer-Night's Dream'/The Fairy Queen

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The Fairy Queen[edit]

Come, follow, follow me,
You fairy elves that be,
Which circle on the green,
Come follow me your queen;
Hand in hand let's dance around,
For this place is fairy ground.
When mortals are at rest,
And snorting in their nest,
Unheard and unespied
Through keyholes we do glide:
Over tables, stools, and shelves.
We trip it with our fairy elves.
And if the house be foul,
Or platter, dish, or bowl,
Upstairs we nimbly creep
And find the sluts asleep;
There we pinch their arms and thighs;
None escapes nor none espies.
But if the house be swept,
And from uncleanness kept,
We praise the household maid
And surely she is paid;
For we do use, before we go,
To drop a tester in her shoe.
Upon a mushroom's head
Our table we do spread;
A corn of rye or wheat
Is manchet which we eat,
Pearly drops of dew we drink
In acorn cups filled to the brink.
The brains of nightingales
With unctuous dew of snails
Between two nutshells stewed
Is meat that's easily chewed;
And the beards of little mice
Do make a feast of wondrous price.
On tops of dewy grass
So nimbly do we pass,
The young and tender stalk
Ne'er bends when we do walk;
Yet in the morning may be seen
Where we the night before have been.
The grasshopper and fly
Serve for our minstrelsy.
Grace said, we dance awhile,
And so the time beguile;
And when the moon doth hide her head,
The glow-worm lights us home to bed.
From The Mysteries of Love and
Eloquence (1658); with a preface
signed E[dward] P[hillips].

The poem was given by Percy in his Reliques from The Mysteries of Love and Eloquence, a curious book of which the preface is signed E.P.; the British Museum Catalogue attributes these initials to Edward Phillips, the nephew of John Milton. But Rimbault pointed out that this song occurs in a tract of 1635, A Description of the King and Queen of the Fairies, attributed to Robert Herrick; a single copy of this pamphlet is known, and is in the Bodleian Library.