A FAIRY'S FUNERAL
self, who had a special knack of mortuary verse, is this on a Felpham blacksmith:—
My sledge and hammer lie reclined; My bellows too have lost their wind ; My fire's extinct; my forge decay'd, And in the dust my vice is laid ; My coal is spent, my iron gone ; The nails are driven—my work is done.
The last verses that Hayley wrote have more charm and delicacy than perhaps anything else among his works:
Ye gentle birds that perch aloof,
And smooth your pinions on my roof,
Preparing for departure hence
Ere winter's angry threats commence ;
Like you, my soul would smooth her plume
For longer flights beyond the tomb.
May God, by whom is seen and heard Departing man and wandering bird, In mercy mark us for his own, And guide us to the land unknown.
But it is not Hayley that gives its glory to Felpham. The glory of Felpham is that William Blake was happy there for nearly three years. It was at Felpham that he saw the fairy's funeral. " Did you ever see a fairy's funeral, ma'am ?" he asked a visitor. "Never, sir ! " "I have ! . . . I was walking alone in my garden ; there was great stillness among the branches and flowers, and more than common sweetness in the air; I heard a low and pleasant sound, and I knew not whence it came. At last I saw the broad leaf of a flower move, and underneath I saw a procession of creatures, of the size and colour of green and grey grasshoppers, bearing a body laid out on a rose-leaf, which they buried with songs, and then disappeared. It was a fairy's funeral !"
Blake settled at Felpham to be near Hayley, for whom he had a number of commissions to execute. He engraved