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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. . . . 
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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