CELT document E890000-016

The Elf-Child

Patrick Augustine Sheehan

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    The Elf-Child

  1. 'Mother! is this the storm-fiend, swooping down to seize me?
    He bath slain all my autumn leaves with his lightning sword.'
    Nay, nay, my little one, 'tis angels' fingers straying
    In some wild midnight voluntary on the organ of the Lord!
    'Mother! stars are hidden, and the great cloud-billows
    Pile their big battalions o'er the flying moon;
    Will she be o'erwhelmed, and rise no more to cheer us?
    Nay, nay, my little one, 'tis moon-dance to storm-rune.
    'Mother, list! the death-watch, tapping, tapping, tapping;
    Is this my little coffin that they're nailing, plank to plank?'
    Mother's tears are falling, pitifully falling;
    Mother's heart is sinking in the midnight, drear and blank.
    But she whispered: Nay, my child 'tis angels' fingers swaying
    The woodbine's long, lithe tendrils against the window pane;
    Sleep, my child, thy little couch is canopied and fringed
    By the locked wings of angels against the storm and rain.
    Slept the weary elf-child; slept the mother weary;
    Angels folded ermine wings, like cope of kneeling priest;
    Then upwards through the storm-blast, on their white breasts cradled,
    Passed the sleeping elf-child to the Child-God's natal Feast.

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Title statement

Title (uniform): The Elf-Child

Author: Patrick Augustine Sheehan

Responsibility statement

Electronic edition compiled by: Benjamin Hazard

Funded by: School of History, University College, Cork and Private donation

Edition statement

1. First draft

Extent: 660 words

Publication statement

Publisher: CELT: Corpus of Electronic Texts: a project of University College, Cork

Address: College Road, Cork, Ireland — http://www.ucc.ie/celt

Date: 2014

Distributor: CELT online at University College, Cork, Ireland.

CELT document ID: E890000-016

Availability: Available with prior consent of the CELT programme for purposes of academic research and teaching only.

Source description


  • [Details to follow].

Canon Sheehan on the Internet

  • http://www.canonsheehanremembered.com.


  • Canon P.A. Sheehan, 'The Elf-Child,' The Irish Monthly, 26/296 (February 1898) 72.


  1. Herman Joseph Heuser, Canon Sheehan of Doneraile: the story of an Irish parish priest as told chiefly by himself in books, personal memoirs, and letters (New York 1917).
  2. Arthur Coussens. P. A. Sheehan, zijn leven en zijn werken (Brugge/Bruges 1923).
  3. Michael P. Linehan, Canon Sheehan of Doneraile: Priest, Novelist, Man of Letters (Dublin 1952).
  4. James O'Brien (ed.), The Collected Letters of Canon Sheehan of Doneraile, 1883–1913 (Wells 2013).
  5. James O'Brien, Canon Sheehan of Doneraile 1852–1913: Outlines for a Literary Biography (Wells 2013). [Bibliographical references 205-11.]

The edition used in the digital edition

‘The Elf-Child’. In: The Irish Monthly: A Magazine of General Literature‍. Ed. by Matthew Russell SJ, p. 72.

You can add this reference to your bibliographic database by copying or downloading the following:

  editor 	 = {},
  title 	 = {The Elf-Child},
  journal 	 = {The Irish Monthly: A Magazine of General Literature},
  editor 	 = {Matthew Russell SJ},
  address 	 = {Dublin},
  publisher 	 = {Irish Jesuit Province},
  date 	 = {February 1898},
  pages 	 = {72}


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Project description: CELT: Corpus of Electronic Texts

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The electronic text represents the edited version.

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Hyphenation: Soft hyphens are silently removed. When a hyphenated word (hard or soft) crosses a page-break or line-break, the page-break and line-break are marked after the completion of the hyphenated word.

Segmentation: div0 = the poem. Metrical lines, line-breaks and stanzas are marked and numbered.

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Profile description

Creation: By Patrick Augustine Sheehan (1852–1913)

Date: 1898

Language usage

  • The text is in English. (en)

Keywords: poetry; 19c; religious

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(Most recent first)

  1. 2014-02-10: File parsed and validated; wordcount made; SGML and HTML versions created. (ed. Beatrix Färber)
  2. 2014-01-31: Header created; structural mark-up added; file proofed. (ed. Benjamin Hazard)
  3. 2014-01-24: Text scanned. (file capture Benjamin Hazard)

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