Thursday, 28 June 2012

A pair of magic ear-rings...Margaret Tarrant

A pair of magic ear-rings were growing on a tree,
and someone picked the ear-rings,
as all the world could see,
a pair of cherry ear-rings, as magic as could be!

The Raspberry Fairies have a game they often like to play.
They count the seeds in a raspberry, in the "tinker tailor," way,
singing "moonbeam, starlight, sunshine, rain, dewdrop, snowflake, pebble in the lane?"
There's one little fairy, quiet and shy, she doesn't like the game,
she counts the seeds in the raspberries, and they always come the same.
Never "moonbeam," "starlight," "sunshine," "rain," she gets always "pebble in the lane!"

A fairy grew a-weary of the colour of her wings,
though they were pink and silver - sweet and dainty little things.
"I want a diff'rent colour, I would like a purply-blue,"
She said, and looked around about to see what she could do.
She picked some Whortleberries; and she thought a little while;
Then squeezed their juice out gently - and she gave a little smile.
"I'll dye my wings and make them come the colour that I wish,"
She said, and stirred the juice around inside a little dish.
She dipped her wings, and dyed them, in the Whortleberry stain,
and dried them in the moonlight; then flew back home again,
and all her seven sisters clapped their hands in great delight,
and went and dyed their wings as well, that very self-same night!

Look! The magic's working! hiding in the grass, can't you see a fairy? Did you see her pass?
All among the bushes Blackberries are ripe. Look! Another fairy, playing on a pipe!
Here's a little Goblin lying fast asleep; Blackberries he's gathered - left them in a heap.
See the tiny fairies stealing from his pile? Won't there be some trouble in a little while!

Pictures and poems from The wild fruit fairies by Marion St. John Webb, illustrated by Margaret Tarrant. Published by The Modern Art Society, London 1st edition, 1925. 


  1. Oh my Barbara - these are just so lovely! There is something about them that is so typical of that era - I think it is the expressions on their faces. I wonder if there was any mutual influence or association with Cicely Mary Barker. Especially the first illustration, it is very like her work.

  2. What delightful poems and pictures! I could look at the pictures for hours and dream of fairies and faraway places. I love the magic that is captured!

  3. barbaraannefisher29 June 2012 at 11:06

    Hello Sharon,

    I couldn’t agree more, they are simply beautiful!

    According to the Oxford encyclopaedia of children’s literature Margaret Tarrant and Cicely Mary Barker were friends –

    Tarrant's long and prolific career began with the publication of The Water Babies in 1908, followed by many other children's classics. During the 1920s her popularity increased thanks to a series of delightful little books on fairies. Unlike her well-known friend, illustrator Cicely Mary Barker, however, Margaret Tarrant did not merely portray fairies or flowers and plants, but through the soft and muted tones of her watercolours and the neatness of her line drawings conjured up Fairies of the House, Fairies of the Insects, Fairies of the Seashore (all published in 1925), Fairies of the Weather (1927), and Fairies of the Twilight (1928)—all of which were written by her friend Marion St. John Webb.

    - so that could explain some the similarities.

  4. barbaraannefisher29 June 2012 at 11:57

    Thank you Carla, I love being able to share beautiful books and images.

  5. barbaraannefisher29 June 2012 at 12:02

    Hello Steff, that is a lovely thing to say, thank you. We all need more magic in our lives.

  6. omg, this is now my most favorite that I've seen on your blog. I love the illustrations and I love the sweet poem. So enchanting.

  7. I didn't know she illustrated the Water Babies - I've just looked it up - her work on that is lovely! Its strange that Cicely M Barker is a well known name all over the world and her fairies are instantly recognisable and yet here is someone with equal talent but is not as well known today. I suppose that's the power of marketing for you.

  8. Absolutely fantastic! And thank you so much for the sweet comment on my blog :)

  9. barbaraannefisher29 June 2012 at 21:17

    Oh, thank you Donna, you just made my day.

  10. The Desert Rocks29 June 2012 at 21:20

    Barb, this post is my all time favorite. I want those earrings and what are whortleberries? The pictures are divine. Thanks for the stories and poems.

  11. barbaraannefisher29 June 2012 at 21:42

    Thank you. I love visiting your blog and would be delighted to join you all for breakfast!

  12. barbaraannefisher29 June 2012 at 21:49

    Thank you Eve, I have a very happy smile on my face now!
    According to ‘Everything Exmoore’ a Whortleberry is the local Somerset name for the wild bilberry that grows on Exmoor. A humble fruit goes by many different names, such as; bilberry, blueberry, heidelberry, huckleberry, hurtleberry and wimberry to mention but a few.
    I didn't know that, and I live in Somerset!

  13. barbaraannefisher29 June 2012 at 22:01

    Your comment about the power of marketing made me smile – but it's probably absolutely true. I think people were fascinated because Cicely Mary Barker used real children as models. It’s also said that she made all the fairy costumes herself, so maybe that got her noticed.

  14. I love fairies! Fantastic pictures and wonderful poems. I love that berries are used to change the color of the wings. So creative and I can picture them perfectly! Fairies always make my day brighter.

  15. barbaraannefisher30 June 2012 at 22:38

    Hello Jess, I’m so pleased you enjoyed the illustrations and poems. Thanks for calling in.

  16. I've been following this blog for a while now, but don't often comment. I just had to say though that I loved this post - maybe it's because I've been enjoying cherries and raspberries recently, and visiting with nieces and nephews, and walking through parks that seem to have pockets of magical trees with the sunlight slanting through them just so...

  17. barbaraannefisher7 July 2012 at 13:56

    Hi there, thanks so much for following and commenting. I follow your blog too, but like you have only commented a couple of times – I will be back!
    I’m so glad you enjoyed the post. It was a fun one for me because I love the illustrations (and cherries, raspberries, parks and sunshine).

  18. Too gorgeous, Margaret Tarrant is very talented. I love the last picture.
    You have the most beautiful books I have ever seen in one place.

  19. barbaraannefisher8 July 2012 at 15:57

    I’m not so sure about the Michelle – I think you have the most beautiful books I’ve seen in one place. Your collections are amazing.

  20. Happy to share - thanks for commenting! Barbara


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Barbara xx