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Poem by Edith Nesbit


The Spider Queen


IN the deep heart of furthest fairyland
    Where foot of man has never trodden yet
The enchanted portals of her palace stand,
    And there her sleepless sentinels are set.


All round grow forests of white eglantine
    And drooping, dreaming clematis; there blows
The purple nightshade; there pale bindweeds twine
    And there the pale, frail flower of slumber grows.


Her palaces are decked with gleaming wings,
    Hung o'er with webs through spacious bower and hall,
Filled through and through with precious priceless things;
    She is their mistress and she hates them all.


No darkling webs, woven in dust and gloom,
    Adorn her palace walls; there gleam astir
Live threads of light, spun for a fairy's loom,
    And stolen by her slaves and brought to her.


She wears a robe woven of the July sun,
    Mixed with green threads won from the East at dawn,
Bordered with silver moonrays, finely spun,
    And gemmed with glowworms from some shadowy lawn.


She wears a crown of dewdrops bright like tears,
    Her girdle is a web of rainbow dyes;
She knows no youth, nor age; the hours and years
    Leave never a shadow on her lips and eyes.


In magic rings of green and glistening light
    Her fairies dance, in star-spun raiment clad,
Her people do her bidding day and night,
    Her dark-robed servants toil to make her glad.


Her minstrels play to her--her singers raise
    Soft songs, more sweet than man has ever heard,
With endless rhythms of love her courtiers praise,
    And all their heart is in their every word.


She is the mistress of all things that set
    Snare of fine webs to win their hearts' desire,
Queen of all folk who weave the death-strong net
    Between the poppy and the wild-rose briar.


Yet sits despair upon that brow of hers,
    And sorrow in her eyes makes festival;
The soul of grief with her sad soul confers,
    And she sits lonely in her crowded hall;


Because she has woven a web of her bright hair--
    A tear-bright web, to catch one soul; and he
Beheld her, in her beauty, set the snare,
    And seeing laughed, and laughing passed out free!



                      Edith Nesbit


Edith Nesbit's other poems:
  1. This Desirable Mansion
  2. To Vera, who Asked a Song
  3. The Fields of Flanders
  4. In Eclipse
  5. Out of Hope


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