I Little Cowboy, what have you heard, Up on the lonely rath's green mound? Only the plaintive yellow bird Sighing in sultry fields around, Chary, chary, chary, chee-ee! - Only the grasshopper and the bee? - "Tip tap, rip-rap, Tick-a-tack-too! Scarlet leather, sewn together, This will make a shoe. Left, right, pull it tight; Summer days are warm; Underground in winter, Laughing at the storm!" Lay your ear close to the hill. Do you not catch the tiny glamour, Busy click of an elfin hammer, Voice of the Lepracaun singing shrill As he merrily plies his trade? He's a span And a quarter in height. Get him in sight, hold him tight, And you're a made Man! II You watch your cattle the summer day, Sup on potatoes, sleep in the hay; How would you like to roll in your carriage, Look for a duchess's daughter in marriage? Seize the Shoemaker - then you may! "Big boots a-hunting, Sandals in the hall, White for a wedding-feast, Pink for a ball. This way, that way, So we make a shoe; Getting rich every stitch, Tick-tack-too!" Nine-and-ninety treasure-crocks This keen miser-fairy hath, Hid in mountains, woods, and rocks, Ruin and round-tow'r, cave and rath, And where the cormorants build; From times of old Guarded by him; Each of them fill'd Full to the brim With gold! III I caught him at work one day, myself, In the castle-ditch, where foxglove grows, - A wrinkled, wizen'd, and bearded Elf, Spectacles stuck on his pointed nose, Silver buckles to his hose, Leather apron - shoe in his lap - "Rip-rap, Tip-tap, Tick-tack-too! (A grasshopper on my cap! Away the moth flew!) Buskins for a fairy prince, Brogues for his son, - Pay me well, pay me well, When the job is done!" The rogue was mine, beyond a doubt. I stared at him; he stared at me; "Servant, Sir!" "Humph!" says he, And pull'd a snuff-box out. He took a long pinch, look'd better pleased, The queer little Lepracaun; Offer'd the box with a whimsical grace, - Pouf! he flung the dust in my face, And, while I sneezed, Was gone! ("The Lepracaum; or, Fairy Shoemaker" by William Allingham, printed in Poems of the Irish People, 2016)
This poem was better the second time I read it, so try it once more. Isn’t it cute? A story about a Lepracaun? It reads kind of like a conversation between two people, maybe one is older and wiser than the other, maybe a parent or grandparent speaking to a child? Whoever is telling the story builds the drama up, first describing the Lepracaun, then quoting it (as if they had heard it speak before). What gives more credibility to the story than describing the shoes the Lepracaun is making, as in the second stanza? Then for the best part: almost catching the Lepracaun. But he’s too clever. Poof! He throws snuff in the storyteller’s face and vanishes away. We may never know if the Lepracaun is real. He’s just too smart to get caught!
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