Dear Friends and Parishioners,
I offer you The Song of The Nightshade Berry Fairy, first published 1926:
“You see my berries, how they gleam and glow,
Clear ruby-red, and green, and orange-yellow;
Do they not tempt you, fairies, dangling so?”
The fairies shake their heads and answer “No!
You are a crafty fellow!”
“What, won’t you try them? There is naught to pay!
Why should you think my berries poisoned things?
You fairies may look scared and fly away –
The children will believe me when I say
My fruit is fit for kings!”
But all good fairies cry in anxious haste,
“O children, do not taste!”
As children my sister and I gathered everything, but care was needed. A friend of mine one day dug up the root of nightshade and grated it into a salad. I’m glad I wasn’t there. Everyone ended up in the QE. The bright berries in life can be poisonous. But not all of them; and I give you The Song of The Blackberry Fairy:
My berries cluster black and thick
For rich and poor alike to pick.
I’ll tear your dress, and cling, and tease,
And scratch your hands and arms and knees.
I’ll stain your fingers and your face,
And then I’ll laugh at your disgrace.
But when the bramble-jelly’s made,
You’ll find your trouble well repaid.
When we were young my sister and I had a firm belief in fairies, and often lay still in woodland glades…waiting…; or lingered by quiet bridges…waiting…; and on a diet of Narnia books addressed dryads in woods and nyads in pools, throwing garlands about and pouring libations. Father: ‘Who’s been at the port?’ Mother: ‘The children. For the fairies and dryads and nyads, and boggarts.’ ‘What’s a boggart?’
All this was combined with a strict but cheerful christian upbringing: the idle protestantism of my father, and the colourful, determined catholicism of my mother. The fairies finally gave way to Christ. They had to. Avoid the Nightshade. Devour the blackberries. And in these Autumn days may we turn to our Creator God, who has turned to us in Christ His Son, and Who will never turn away.
Ian Whittle The Rectory, Langham