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Main > Scotland folktales > Fairy tale "Elphin Irving"

Elphin Irving

The proud and the wealthy

To Phemie are bowing;

No looks of love win they

With sighing or suing;

Far away maun I stand

With my rude wooing,

She’s a flow’ret too lovely

Too bloom for my pu’ing.

Oh were I yon violet

On which she is walking;

Oh were I yon small bird

To which she is talking;

Or yon rose in her hand,

With its ripe ruddy blossom;

Or some pure gentle thought

To be blest with her bosom.

This minstrel interruption, while it established Phemie Irving’s claim to grace and to beauty, gave me additional confidence to pursue the story.

“But minstrel skill and true love-tale seemed to want their usual influence when they sought to win her attention; she was only observed to pay most respect to those youths who were most beloved by her brother; and the same hour that brought these twins to the world seemed to have breathed through them a sweetness and an affection of heart and mind which nothing could divide. If, like the virgin queen of the immortal poet, she walked ‘in maiden meditation fancy free,’ her brother Elphin seemed alike untouched with the charms of the fairest virgins in Corrie. He ploughed his field, he reaped his grain, he leaped, he ran, and wrestled, and danced, and sang, with more skill and life and grace than all other youths of the district; but he had no twilight and stolen interviews; when all other young men had their loves by their side, he was single, though not unsought, and his joy seemed never perfect save when his sister was near him. If he loved to share his time with her, she loved to share her time with him alone, or with the beasts of the field, or the birds of the air. She watched her little flock late, and she tended it early; not for the sordid love of the fleece, unless it was to make mantles for her brother, but with the look of one who had joy in its company. The very wild creatures, the deer and the hares, seldom sought to shun her approach, and the bird forsook not its nest, nor stinted its song, when she drew nigh; such is the confidence which maiden innocence and beauty inspire.

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