The Faerie Queen
(there is a dispute on who wrote this
if you did please let me know
and send proof. Thank you)
Midnight glance is silence glazed
Misty shroud the leaves entwine
Long the fruit on bough has blossomed
Laden heavy hangs the vines
Silence still the west wind carries
The tangy taste of the distant sea
Dark and deep the nightshade berries
Twist about the burdened lea
The jingling bells are hardly noticed
First, so heavy is the night
Creeping slowly ever nearer
Bridled mare of deathly white
Now children in their beds of feather
Moan and dream the passing sound
An owl takes flight, a sprig of heather
Spills its burden to the ground
Fairy Queen that rides the darkness with
Softly jingling bridle bells
Shadow of the ancient Mother
That on the wind of autumn dwells
Fairy Queen that claims the harvest
Yours the red fruit of the vine
Mab the song is unforgotten
The misty air the leaves entwine.
Where the bluebells and the wind are,
Fairies in a ring I spied,
And I heard a little linnet
Singing near beside.
Where the primrose and the dew are,
Soon were sped the fairies all:
Only now the green turf freshens,
And the linnets call.
Poem by Walter de la Mare
There are reports of fairy-like creatures and others closely related from all over the world... far too many to consider here. We are chiefly concerned with the many different kinds which have been known for centuries around the British Isles.
Fairies are called by many names in many different places: faerie, fay, fey, The Gentry, The Good People, The Good Neighbors, The People of Peace, The Fair Family, the Twylyth Teg, pixies, piskies, pisgies, the Daoine O'Sidhe (Deeny Shee), The Sith, The Seely Court. There are also a variety of other creatures akin to them, such as the elves, gnomes, trolls, brownies, bwca, hobgoblins, pooka, phouka, pwca, kelpie, silkie, and many more.
(A special word about "hobgoblin", which is not what it seems. Hob is a name given to a helpful sort of spirit, and so a hobgoblin is quite different from plain, scary goblin.) These are all names people use to describe fairies and their ilk, but each of them has a name of his or her own, which is not so easy to find out... But more on that later.
It should be pointed out that those we now usually think of as fairies, they small, delicate creatures, are of the type that usually live in large groups, and are commonly called trooping fairies. Not all the trooping fairies are quite so small as the sort most popularly pictured, but for many hundred years, even the larger sort were thought to be smaller than ordinary humans. The diminutive fairies were not often reported until the past two or three centuries, and it may be that as their numbers diminished, their individual size shrank, too.
Some of those mentioned above are solitary creatures, not strictly fairies, who vary from the very helpful (such as the brownie, who usually lives by a house or on a farm and does chores in return for a bit of food and drink) to the very dangerous (such as a Silkie, who lures sailors into the sea.)
From S. Baring-Gould, A Book of Folk-lore
retold in K.M. Brigg's A Dictionary of British Folk-Tales:
Two serving girls in Tavistock said that the pixies were very kind to them, and would drop silver for them into a bucket of clean water, which they took care to place for them in the chimney-corner every night. Once it was forgotten, and the pixies forthwith went up to the girls' room and loudly complained of the neglect. One oif them, who happened to be awake, jogged the other, and proposed going down to rectify the omission, but she said, "for her part, she would not stir out of bed to please all the pixies in Devonshire". The other went down and filled the bucket, in which, by the way, she found next morning a handful of silver pennies.
As she was returning, she heard the pixies debating how they might punish the other, and they agreed to give her a lame leg for a term of seven years, then to be cured by a herb groing on Dartmoor, whose name of seven syllables she could not recall. Next morning Molly, the lazy wench, arose dead lame, and so continued till the end of the perious, when, one day, as she was picking up a mushroom a strange-looking boy started up and insisted on striking her leg with a plant which he held in his hand. He did so, and she was cured, and became the best dancer in the town.