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In medieval English folklore, Puck was a malicious and wicked fairy. In Elizabethan folklore, he became a mischievous, brownie-like fairy, also called Hobgoblin or Robin Goodfellow.The Irish pooka and the Welsh pwcca are similar spirits.

 

Puck is one of the main characters in Shakespeare's A Midsummer Night's Dream. In the play, Puck boasts of his tricks and pranks to another fairy:

Fairy:
'...you are that shrewd and knavish sprite
Call'd Robin Goodfellow. Are not you he
That frights the maidens of the villagery,
Skim milk, and sometimes labour in the quern,
And bootless make the breathless housewife churn,
And sometime make the drink to bear no barm,
Mislead night-wanderers, laughing at their harm?
Those that Hobgoblin call you, and sweet Puck,
You do their work, and they shall have good luck.
Are you not he?'







Puck:
'Thou speakest aright:
I am that merry wanderer of the night.
I jest to Oberon, and make him smile
When I a fat and bean-fed horse beguile,
Neighing in likeness of a filly foal;
And sometimes I lurk in a gossip's bowl
In very likeness of a roasted crab,
And, when she drinks, against her lips I bob,
And on her withered dewlap pour the ale.
The wisest aunt, telling the saddest tale,
Sometime for three-foot stool mistaketh me;
Then slip I from her bum, down topple she,
And 'tailor' cries and falls into a cough;
And then the whole quire hold their hips and laugh,
And waxen in their mirth, and neeze, and swear
A merrier hour was never wasted there.

One of the planet Uranus' many moons is named Puck, after Shakespeare's fairy character.

See also:    A Midsummer Night's Dream


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Last updated: April 2010. Copyright © Rohini Chowdhury 2002. All rights reserved.

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