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Off the Ground

Written by: Walter de la Mare | Biography
 | Quotes (2) |
 Three jolly Farmers 
Once bet a pound 
Each dance the others would 
Off the ground.
Out of their coats They slipped right soon, And neat and nicesome Put each his shoon.
One--Two--Three! And away they go, Not too fast, And not too slow; Out from the elm-tree's Noonday shadow, Into the sun And across the meadow.
Past the schoolroom, With knees well bent, Fingers a flicking, They dancing went.
Up sides and over, And round and round, They crossed click-clacking The Parish bound; By Tupman's meadow They did their mile, Tee-to-tum On a three-barred stile.
Then straight through Whipham, Downhill to Week, Footing it lightsome, But not too quick, Up fields to Watchet And on through Wye, Till seven fine churches They'd seen slip by -- Seven fine churches, And five old mills, Farms in the valley, And sheep on the hills; Old Man's Acre And Dead Man's Pool All left behind, As they danced through Wool.
And Wool gone by, Like tops that seem To spin in sleep They danced in dream: Withy -- Wellover -- Wassop -- Wo -- Like an old clock Their heels did go.
A league and a league And a league they went, And not one weary, And not one spent.
And log, and behold! Past Willow-cum-Leigh Stretched with its waters The great green sea.
Says Farmer Bates, 'I puffs and I blows, What's under the water, Why, no man knows !' Says Farmer Giles, 'My mind comes weak, And a good man drownded Is far to seek.
' But Farmer Turvey, On twirling toes, Up's with his gaiters, And in he goes: Down where the mermaids Pluck and play On their twangling harps In a sea-green day; Down where the mermaids Finned and fair, Sleek with their combs Their yellow hair.
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Bates and Giles -- On the shingle sat, Gazing at Turvey's Floating hat.
But never a ripple Nor bubble told Where he was supping Off plates of gold.
Never an echo Rilled through the sea Of the feasting and dancing And minstrelsy.
They called -- called -- called; Came no reply: Nought but the ripples' Sandy sigh.
Then glum and silent They sat instead, Vacantly brooding On home and bed, Till both together Stood up and said: -- 'Us knows not, dreams not, Where you be, Turvey, unless In the deep blue sea; But axcusing silver -- And it comes most willing -- Here's us two paying our forty shilling; For it's sartin sure, Turvey, Safe and sound, You danced us a square, Turvey, Off the ground.
'



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