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Story Poems: Romance and Reality

When the King in Lowell's poem asked his three daughters what fairings he should bring them on his homecoming, the two elder ones demanded jewels and rings, silks that would stand alone, and golden combs for the hair. But the youngest Princess, she that was whiter than thistledown-somehow it is always the youngest princess who is beloved of the poets and romancers— asked as her fairing the Singing Leaves. The King could not buy them in Vanity Fair, but in the deep heart of the greenwood he found Walter, the little footpage, who drew a thin packet from his bosom and said,

"Now give you this to the Princess Anne,
The Singing Leaves are therein."

She took them when the King met her at the castle gate, the lovely little Princess with the golden crown shining dim in the blithesome gold of her hair; took them with a smile that


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The poems we give you here, young princes and princesses of the twentieth century, are all Singing Leaves of one sort or another. There are leaves that sing tragedies, like those in "Earl Haldan's Daughter,'


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The High Tide," or "The Sands o' Dee"; there are leaves that sing fantasies, like "The Forsaken Merman, The Pied Piper," or the enchanting "Lady of Shalott," weaving her magic web of colors gay. There are Singing Leaves that grew on the Tree of Reality; leaves that tell stories like Bret Harte's "Greyport Legend" or Browning's "Hervé Riel "; while in "Seven Times Two," the " Swan's Nest," "Lord Ullin," "Young Lochinvar," and "Jock o' Hazledean " you have pure romances, sweet and youthful, gay and daring.





The Singing Leaves


WHAT fairings will ye that I bring?"

Said the King to his daughters three; "For I to Vanity Fair am boun',

Now say what shall they be?"

Then up and spake the eldest daughter,
That lady tall and grand:

"Oh, bring me pearls and diamonds great,
And gold rings for my hand."

Thereafter spake the second daughter,
That was both white and red:

"For me bring silks that will stand alone, And a gold comb for my head."

Then came the turn of the least daughter,
That was whiter than thistle-down,
And among the gold of her blithesome hair
Dim shone the golden crown.

Romance "There came a bird this morning,
And sang 'neath my bower eaves,
Till I dreamed, as his music made me,



'Ask thou for the Singing Leaves." "

Then the brow of the King swelled crimson
With a flush of angry scorn:
"Well have ye spoken, my two eldest,
And chosen as ye were born;


"But she, like a thing of peasant race,
That is happy binding the sheaves;
Then he saw her dead mother in her face,
And said, “Thou shalt have thy leaves."


He mounted and rode three days and nights
Till he came to Vanity Fair,

And 't was easy to buy the gems and the silk,
But no Singing Leaves were there.

Then deep in the greenwood rode he,
And asked of every tree,

"Oh, if you have ever a Singing Leaf,
I pray you give it me!"

But the trees all kept their counsel,
And never a word said they,

Only there sighed from the pine-tops
A music of seas far away.

Only the pattering aspen

Made a sound of growing rain, That fell ever faster and faster,

Then faltered to silence again.

"Oh, where shall I find a little foot-page
That would win both hose and shoon,
And will bring to me the Singing Leaves
If they grow under the moon?"

Then lightly turned him Walter the page,
By the stirrup as he ran:

Now pledge you me the truesome word
Of a king and gentleman,


"That you will give me the first, first thing
You meet at your castle-gate,

And the Princess shall get the Singing Leaves,
Or mine be a traitor's fate."

The King's head dropt upon his breast
A moment, as it might be;

"T will be my dog, he thought, and said,
"My faith I plight to thee."

Then Walter took from next his heart
A packet small and thin,

"Now give you this to the Princess Anne,
The Singing Leaves are therein.”

Romance and Reality

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