William Allingham

The 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,


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 clamor,

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


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,


Nine and ninety treasure crocks

This keen miser-fairy hath,

Hid in mountains, woods and rocks,

Ruin and round tower, cave and rath,

And where the cormorants build

From times of old

Guarded by him

Each of them filled

Full to the brim

With gold!

I caught him at work one day, myself,

In the castle ditch, where foxglove grows,—

A wrinkled, wizened, and bearded elf,

Spectacles stuck on his pointed nose,

Silver buckles to his hose,

Leather apron—shoe in his lap—

"Rip-rap, tip-tap,


(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 pulled a snuff-box out.

He took a long pinch, looked better pleased,

The queer little Lepracaun;

Offered the box with a whimsical grace—

Pouf! he flung the dust in my face!

And while I sneezed,

Was gone!