A leprechaun counts his gold c. 1900

A leprechaun counts his gold c. 1900

Today’s tale is actually a poem written by William Allingham and included in Sixteen Poems by William Allingham, selected by William Bulter Yeats, published in 1905.

The Leprecaun or Fairy Shoemaker

Little Cowboy, what have you heard,
Up on the lonely rath’s green mound?
Only the plaintive yellow bird
Sighing in sultry fields around,
Chary, chary, chary, chee-ee!–
Only the grasshopper and the bee?–
“Tip-tap, rip-rap,
Tick-a-tack-too!
Scarlet leather, sewn together,
This will make a shoe.
Left, right, pull it tight;
Summer days are warm;
Underground in winter,
Laughing at the storm!
Lay your ear close to the hill.
Do you not catch the tiny clamour,
Busy click of an elfin hammer,
Voice of the Lepracaun singing shrill
As he merrily plies his trade?
He’s a span
And a quarter in height.
Get him in sight, hold him tight,
And you’re a made
Man!

You watch your cattle the summer day,
Sup on potatoes, sleep in the hay;
How would you like to roll in your carriage.
Look for a duchess’s daughter in marriage?
Seize the Shoemaker–then you may!
“Big boots a-hunting,
Sandals in the hall,
White for a wedding-feast,
Pink for a ball.
This way, that way,
So we make a shoe;
Getting rich every stitch,
Tick-tack-too!”
Nine-and-ninety treasure-crocks
This keen miser-fairy hath,
Hid in mountains, woods, and rocks,
Ruin and round-tow’r, cave and rath,
And where the cormorants build;
From times of old
Guarded by him;
Each of them fill’d
Full to the brim
With gold!

I caught him at work one day, myself,
In the castle-ditch, where foxglove grows,–
A wrinkled, wizen’d and bearded Elf,
Spectacles stuck on his pointed nose,
Silver buckles to his hose,
Leather apron-shot in his lap–
“Rip-rap, tip-tap,
Tick-tack-too!
(A grasshopper on my cap!
Away the moth flew!)
Buskins for a fairy prince,
Brogues for his son,–
Pay me well, pay me well,
When the job is done! ”
The rogue was mine, beyond a doubt.
I stared at him; he stared at me;
“Servant, Sir!” “Humph!” says he,
And pull’d a snuff-box out.
He took a long pinch, look’d better pleased,
The queer little Lepracaun;
Offer’d the box with a whimsical grace,-
Pouf! he flung the dust in my face,
And, while I sneezed,
Was gone!

This one’s a fairly typicial leprechaun. According to Wikipedia, a leprechaun is a type of fairy in Irish folklore who usually takes the form of an old man wearing a red or green coat and enjoys partaking in mischief.  The leprechauns spend all their time busily making shoes, and store away all their coins in a hidden pot of gold at the end of the rainbow. The leprechaun in the poem hides his treasure throughout the woods and mountains and behind rocks. If captured by a human, the leprechaun has the magical power to grant three wishes in exchange for their release. In the poem, however, the leprechaun gets away. They’re not easy to catch, which accounts for the popularity of leprechaun traps.

Thursday’s Tales is a weekly event here at Carol’s Notebook. Fairy tales, folktales, tall tales, even re-tellings, I love them all.