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The Changeling: A Fairy Tale


    O what is the matter, daughter?
    Why pace you on the grass?

    O father, I am as weary
    as ever woman was.

    I have seen the ban sidhe, father,
    by the glow of the dying fire;
    at times she goes in shimmering clothes
    and is such as all men desire,
    
    but times she squats by the embers,
    plucks at her soiled green gown
    with broken nails, and soundless wails
    drip from her darting tongue.

    Though she built a fairy tower
    filled with pipes and song and dance,
    yet tumbled stones and bracken
    are all her inheritance.

    The cry of the ban sidhe starts within
    where she cannot tend or care
    and it echoes in secret hollows
    before it breaks in the air.

    She cannot rest and cannot sleep
    for fear of that abyss;
    for all she has are glamours,
    powers of hurt and bliss:

    to kill a child, or sour milk,
    or grant a lover's boon.
    O guard the bairns, my daughter.
    Keep vigil in their room.

    She has not harmed my children,
    touched not a hair of their head  -
    but between the late and early
    she crept into my bed,

    where closer than any lover's been
    she dug deep in my blood and bone:
    the ban sidhe took my heart of flesh
    and left me a heart of stone.

    I have searched the house, my daughter;
    I have heard no ban sidhe's cries.

    O father, I wail for I cannot weep.
    You look into her eyes.