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Kilkarkee Fair

Aliza writes: The first idea of 'Kilkarkee Fair' began forming while I made my bed one morning,when the phrase 'One day as I traveled' began revolving in my mind.It seemed like a good way to start a poem, and I kept repeating it, trying to decide just where I had traveled. Line by line, I continued the stanza, telling a story inspired by the old Scottish ballad 'Tam Lin.' Though I completed it with pen and paper, 'Kilkarkee Fair' was born in the time-honored tradition of a ballad--as a story spoken aloud.

Kilkarkee Fair
by Aliza Silverstein, Grade 11

One day as I traveled to Kilkarkee Fair
I stopped in a town, I'm forgetting just where,
and there I set eyes on a lassie so fine
I swore on the instant that I'd make her mine.

She sat on the stones on the rim of a well,
and her spun-fire hair past her shoulders it fell.
Her statuesque face was tipped down to the ground
but her eyes they looked up until mine they had found.

I followed her out of the town to the wood,
yet I never could find just the place where she stood,
till I settled me down by a pool cool and clear,
exhausted and certain that she was not near.

Then softly and cat-like she stole from the trees
with a beauty so stunning I'd be brought to my knees
(had I not yet been sitting all lost in my dreams,
and watching new starlight spark watery gleams).

She bent down and kissed me and gave me her hand,
she promised me riches as prince of her land,
and soon did I learn that you never say nay
when you're given a choice by the Queen of the Fey.

Seven years passed in the Court of the Faerie,
and in each passing year I grew ever more wary,
for only so long can a mortal be caught
in the weavings of moonbeams and magic and thought.

I learned all I could of the ways of their kind,
that all faeries with iron I'd be able to bind,
and that harvesting time and the Kilkarkee Fair
was the best time of all for what I would dare.

So seven years after right down to the night,
I stole away softly, my throat closed with fright.
I shan't give the details of all that ensued:
too many already have spoken it true:
the hunts and the howls and chanting of charms
as the friends of the past try to grievously harm.

How I lived through the night I never shall know,
but I'm warning the menfolk before I will go:
beware of the lassies and do have a care
if ever you travel to Kilkarkee Fair.


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