Long, long ago, in ancient times, there lived a King and Queen,
And for the blessing of a child their longing sore had been:
At last, a little daughter fair, to their great joy, was given,
And to the christening feast they made, they bade the Fairies seven—
The Fairies seven, who loved the land—that they the child might bless,
Yet one old Fairy they left out, in pure forgetfulness.
And at the feast, the dishes fair were of the reddest gold;
But when the Fairy came, not one for her, so bad and old,
Angry was she, because her place and dish had been forgot,
And angry things she muttered long, and kept her anger hot.
Until the Fairy godmothers their gifts and wishes gave:
She waited long to spoil the gifts, and her revenge to have.
One gave the Princess goodness, and one gave her beauty rare;
One gave her sweetest singing voice; one, gracious mien and air;
One, skill in dancing; one, all cleverness; and then the crone
Came forth, and muttered, angry still, and good gift gave she none;
But said, that in the future years the Princess young should die,
By pricking of a spindlepoint—ah, woeful prophecy!
But now, a kind young Fairy, who had waited to the last,
Stepped forth, and said, “No, she shall sleep till a hundred years are past;
And then she shall be wakened by a King's son—truth I tell—
And he will take her for his wife, and all will yet be well.”
In vain in all the king's Court the spinning-wheel's forbid
For in a lonely turret high, and up a winding stair,
There lives an ancient woman who still turns her wheel with care.
The Princess found her out one day, and tried to learn to spin;
Alas ! the spindle pricked her hand—the charm had entered in!
And down she falls in death-like sleep : they lay her on her bed,
And all around her sink to rest—a palace of the dead !
A hundred years pass—still they sleep, and all around the place
A wood of thorns has risen up—no path a man can trace.
At last, a King's son, in the hunt, asked how long it had stood,
And what old towers were those he saw above the ancient wood.
An aged peasant told of an enchanted palace, where
A sleeping King and Court lay hid, and sleeping Princess fair.
Through the thick wood, that gave him way, and past the thorns that drew
Their sharpest points another way, the King's son presses through.
He reached the guard, the court, the hall,—and there, where'er he stept,
He saw the sentinels, and grooms, and courtiers as they slept.
Ladies in act to smile, and pages in attendance wait;
The horses slept within their stalls, the dogs about the gate.
The King's son presses on, into an inner chamber fair,
And sees, laid on a silken bed, a lovely lady there;
So sweet a face, so fair—was never beauty such as this;
He stands—he stoops to gaze—he kneels—he wakes her with a kiss.
He leads her forth : the magic sleep of all the Court is o'er,
They wake, they move, they talk, they laugh, just as they did of yore
A hundred years ago. The King and Queen awake, and tell
How all has happed, rejoicing much that all has ended well.
They hold the wedding that same day, with mirth and feasting good—
The wedding of the Prince and Sleeping Beauty in the Wood.