Emerald Isles

Now in the olden days of King Arthur,
Of whom the Britons speak with great honour,

All this wide land was land of faery.
The elf-queen, with her jolly company,

Danced oftentimes on many a green mead;
This was the old opinion, as I read.

I speak of many hundred years ago;
But now no man can see the elves, you know.

For now the so-great charity and prayers
Of limiters and other holy friars

That do infest each land and every stream
As thick as motes are in a bright sunbeam,

Blessing halls, chambers, kitchens, ladies' bowers,
Cities and towns and castles and high towers,

Manors and barns and stables, aye and dairies-
This causes it that there are now no fairies.

For where was wont to walk full many an elf,
Right there walks now the limiter himself

In noons and afternoons and in mornings,
Saying his matins and such holy things,

As he goes round his district in his gown.
Women may now go safely up and down

In every copse or under every tree
There is no other incubus, than he.

 

From THE TALE OF THE WIFE OF BATH (857-877) 
in THE CANTERBURY TALES
by Geoffrey Chaucer - (ca. 1343-1400)