The Pastime of the Queen of Fairies, when She Comes upon the Earth out of the Center

This lovely sweet and beauteous Fairy Queen
Begins to rise when Hesperus1 is seen,
For she is kin unto the god of night,
Unto2 Diana, and the stars so bright,
And so to all the rest in some degrees,                                   5
Yet not so near relation as to these.
As for Apollo, she disclaims him quite,
And swears she ne’er will come within his light,
For they fell out about some foolish toy,
Where ever since in him she takes no joy.                           10
She says3 he always doth more harm than good,
If but4 his malice were well5 understood,
For he brings dearths by parching up the ground,
And sucks up water, that none can be found.
He makes poor men6 in fev’rish plagues to lie;                   15
His arrows hot make men7 and beasts to8 die.
So that to him she never will come near,
But hates to see when that9 his beams appear.
This makes the cock her notice give,10 they say,
That when he rises, she may go her way,                             20
And makes the owl her favorite to be,
Because Apollo’s face she hates to see.
For owls do sleep all day, and11 in the night
They shout and hollo12 that they’re out of sight.
So doth13 the glow-worm all day hide her14 head,             25
But lights her15 taper-tail, when he’s abed,
To wait upon the fairest Fairy Queen
Whilst she is sporting on the meadow green.16
Her pastime only is, when she’s on Earth,
To pinch the sluts, which make Hobgoblin mirth,             30
Or changes children while the nurses sleep,
Making the father rich, whose child they keep.
This Hobgoblin’s17 the Queen of Fairy’s fool,
Turning himself to horse, cow, tree, or stool,
Or anything to cross by harmless play,                                 35
As to lead18 travelers out of their way,
Or kick down pails of milk, cause cheese not19 turn,
Or hinder butter’s coming20 in the churn,
Which makes the farmer’s wife to scold and fret
That she can neither cheese nor butter21 get,                     40
And then he doth hold up, as they do22 say,
Hens’ rumps, lest they their eggs too fast should23 lay.
The good wife, sad, squats down upon a stool,24
Not at all thinking it was Hob the fool,25
And26 frowning sits; then Hob gives her a27 slip,               45
And down she falls, whereby she hurts her hip.
Thus many pranks doth Hob play28 on our stage,
With his companion Tom Thumb,29 the queen’s page,
Who doth like piece of fat in pudding lie,
And30 almost chokes the eater, going awry.                        50
And when he’s down the guts, he31 wind blows out,
Putting the standers-by into a rout,
Thus32 shames the eater with a foul disgrace,
That never after dare he33 show his face.
Besides, in many places puts himself,                                  55
In bags and budgets, as34 a little elf,
To make his bearers start away with fear
To think that anything35 alive is36 there.
In this the Queen of Fairies takes delight,
In summer’s even, and in winter’s night,                            60
And when as37 she is weary of these plays,
She takes her coach and goeth38 on her ways
Unto her paradise, the center deep,
Where she the storehouse doth of Nature keep.39

  1. Hesperus] Vespers star 1653
  2. Unto] So to 1653
  3. says] saith 1653
  4. but] that 1653
  5. well] true 1653
  6. men] man 1653
  7. make men] both man 1653
  8. beasts to] beast do 1653
  9. that] as 1664, 1668
  10. her notice give,] give notice, as 1664, 1668
  11. For owls do sleep all day, and] Owles sleep all day, yet hollow 1653
  12. They shout and hollo] Make acclamations 1653
  13. So doth] And so 1664, 1668
  14. hide her] hides his 1664, 1668
  15. her] his 1664, 1668
  16. meadow green.] meady green. 1653; Meady-Green: 1664
  17. Hobgoblin’s] Hobgoblin is 1653
  18. to lead] leading 1653
  19. pails of milk, cause cheese not] Milk-pails, cause Curds not to 1664, 1668
  20. Or hinder butter’s coming] To Cheese, or hinder Butter 1664; To cheese; or hinder Butter 1668
  21. can neither cheese nor butter] the Cheese, and Butter cannot 1653
  22. And then he doth hold up, as they do] Then holds he up the Hens Rumps, as they 1653
  23. Hens’ rumps, lest they their eggs too fast should] Because their Eggs too soon they should not 1653
  24. stool,] chaire, 1653
  25. fool,] Faire: 1653
  26. And] Where 1653
  27. a] the 1653
  28. Thus many pranks doth Hob play] And many prankes, which Hob playes 1653
  29. his companion Tom Thumb,] Tom Thumb, his Companion, 1664, 1668
  30. And] There 1653
  31. he] their 1653
  32. Thus] And 1664, 1668
  33. dare he] he dare 1664, 1668
  34. In bags and budgets, as] As Baggs, Budgets, being 1653
  35. anything] any things 1668
  36. is] be 1664, 1668
  37. as] that 1653, 1668
  38. goeth] doth go 1664, 1668
  39. Where she the storehouse doth of Nature keep.] Which is the Store-house rich of Nature sweet. 1653