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Dirge for a Changeling

In folklore a changeling is a creature that is exchanged by the fairies for a healthy human child. The changeling was often sickly, devious, or deformed. Parents of a child who fell ill, or exhibited odd behavior, attributed it to being a fairy changeling and not their actual child. I wrote this poem from the perspective of a grieving mother who believes her daughter was taken by fairies and replaced with a changeling.

Oh where, Oh where is my Mary?

My little girl with the golden curls

Has been carried off by the fairies!

Why wasn’t I more wary?!

Now kidnapped is my cherub Mary

trapped inside the lair of fairies.

So fair was she with flaxen hair

And skin pink as a berry,

Bright blue eyes and saintly smile,

Manners mild and merry.

Now they’ve replaced my darling child

with a creature snarling wild

its features jarring and vile.

In her crib lies a pale pile of ribs and bile

wrapped in a thin sack of sallow skin.

The sickly scent of acrid breath and putrid flesh

festers from within this withered goblin.

My angel exchanged for a stranger

An angry changeling with insatiable rage

who haunts the places she used to play

with its gaunt face and daunting fangs.

Deranged wraith, Avaunt! Away!

Why must you taunt me everyday?

Gone is my faith, my heart in pain!

Why must you stay? Why remain

A daily reminder that I’ll never find her

that in her bed lay a demon instead.

I’d rather she were dead in the ground

Than have this imp go on gimping around.

Gaping at me with hollow eyes

Wallowing with wailing cries.

Oh the sorrow. Why O Why?

Please leave and let me grieve,

Fairy thieves give me reprieve!

You’ve even depraved her of a grave

and me the memory of my Mary

the way she used to be

before she was torn away from me.

I scorn that you won’t let me mourn,

No tomb for the babe born of my womb,

for the girl replaced by this horror, this doom.

So fairies please have pity, I do pray of thee

to take back this monstrosity

And bring my Mary back to me.