Irish Fairy Tales by William Butler Yeats by William Butler Yeats
I am often doubted when I say that the Irish peasantry still believe in fairies. People think I am merely trying to bring back a little of the old dead beautiful world of romance into this century of great engines and spinning-jinnies. Surely the hum of wheels and clatter of printing presses, to let alone the lecturers with their black coats and tumblers of water, have driven away the goblin kingdom and made silent the feet of the little dancers.
Old Biddy Hart at any rate does not think so. Our bran-new opinions have never been heard of under her brown-thatched roof tufted with yellow stone-crop. It is not so long since I sat by the turf fire eating her griddle cake in her cottage on the slope of Benbulben and asking after her friends, the fairies, who inhabit the green thorn-covered hill up there behind her house. How firmly she believed in them! How greatly she feared offending them! For a long time she would give me no answer but 'I always mind my own affairs and they always mind theirs.' A little talk about my great-grandfather who lived all his life in the valley below, and a few words to remind her how I myself was often under her roof when but seven or eight years old loosened her tongue, however. It would be less dangerous at any rate to talk to me of the fairies than it would be to tell some 'Towrow' of them, as she contemptuously called English tourists, for I had lived under the shadow of their own hillsides. She did not forget, however, to remind me to say after we had finished, 'God bless them, Thursday' (that being the day), and so ward off their displeasure, in case they were angry at our notice, for they love to live and dance unknown of men.