The Giant Poppy, by Lord Dunsany
I dreamt that I went back to the hills I knew, whence on a clear day
you can see the walls of Ilion and the plains of Roncesvalles. There
used to be woods along the tops of those hills with clearings in them
where the moonlight fell, and there when no one watched the fairies
But there were no woods when I went back, no fairies nor distant
glimpse of Ilion or plains of Roncesvalles, only one giant poppy waved
in the wind, and as it waved it hummed "Remember not." And by its
oak-like stem a poet sat, dressed like a shepherd and playing an
ancient tune softly upon a pipe. I asked him if the fairies had passed
that way or anything olden.
He said: "The poppy has grown apace and is killing gods and
fairies. Its fumes are suffocating the world, and its roots drain it
of its beautiful strength." And I asked him why he sat on the hills I
knew, playing an olden tune.
And he answered: "Because the tune is bad for the poppy, which
would otherwise grow more swiftly; and because if the brotherhood
of which I am one were to cease to pipe on the hills men would stray
over the world and be lost or come to terrible ends. We think we have
Then he fell to piping again that olden tune, while the wind among the
poppy's sleepy petals murmured "Remember not. Remember not."