Mythical Monday: The Merry Wanderer of the Night by Mae Clair

I’ve had an affinity for Robin Goodfellow (or “Puck”) ever since reading A Midsummer Night’s Dream in high school. How can you not love a cavalier mischief-maker? Every mythology has a trickster or devilish imp, and when it comes to English folklore and faeries, Robin Goodfellow takes the crown.

Rendering of Puck in field coming upon two human children

Photo courtesy Arthur Rackham [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

A nature sprite, Puck (as he’s nicknamed by country folk) is a mischievous knave who inhabits woodlands and delights in leading night time travelers astray. He’s also been known to engage in tomfoolery at homesteads, souring milk in the churn, pinching lazy housemaids and blowing out candles to steal a kiss from young maidens. He delights in confusing mortals with pranks and practical jokes but isn’t opposed to lending a hand with minor housework such as grinding corn or churning butter if treated well.

If not in the woods, you can find him lurking about farmsteads and barns. Small gifts such as milk and sweet cream may gain his favor for a time, but at heart he is a free-spirited soul who never tires of watching the foolish antics of mortals. One of his favorite tricks is to replace a sleeping infant in their cradle with an elfling child.

Puck is one of the brownie faeries, also called a hobgoblin, and is able to shapeshift at will. He uses echoes and lights to confuse travelers on their journeys through the woods at night, and is capable of stringing humans along like circus animals with his bewitching piping.

Though it would seem this ill-behaved imp is capable of hurtful pranks, most of his tricks are of a harmless nature. He may cause chaos, such as when he bungled who loves who in A Midsummer Night’s Dream, but in the end, matters are usually resolved. Described by Shakespeare as “that merry wanderer of the night,” Puck is endearing and bewildering, a roguish and wayward pixie who is both charmer and scamp.

What do you think? Love the guy or avoid him? Are you a fan of Puck in A Midsummer Night’s Dream

14 thoughts on “Mythical Monday: The Merry Wanderer of the Night by Mae Clair

  1. It’s hard to stay mad at a creature who grinds corn and churns butter! Let’s see what he can do with this list of household chores. 🙂 This has always been a favorite play of mine — who can resist magic and whimsy and mortals being entertainment for the gods? LOL

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    • I like the way you think, Donna . . . I’d gladly leave a spot of milk or sweet cream around the house to have all of the chores magically done, LOL!.

      And hey, mortals as entertainment for the gods reminds me of a certain WIP and a particularly haughty goddess. Maybe Puck and Aphrodite should compare notes on Regency England 😀

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  2. I always was a fan of Puck. Love the name, more. Might need to use it in a future story 🙂 But as for his antics? Perhaps we need a bit more “fun” like that these days. I know I have certainly become more serious as I’ve grown older, and there are days where I’d love to just give it to someone for a laugh. I’d practice on my kids, but unfortunately my 5-year old has special needs and the joke wouldn’t go over well and the 2-year old…well, just wouldn’t get it. LOL So, that leaves the hubby muah ha ha

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    • I think you’re going to wait for the kids to get a bit older, Cd. Although in the meantime, you can keep trying those Puck-Like pranks out on your husband 😉 Your boys have an awesome Mom! 😀

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    • I have a feeling that after causing utter chaos, Puck would put everything back to rights. His greatest joy was sitting back and observing the antics caused by his handiwork. Although, if I were the parents of one of those poor babes, I would be in complete agreement with you, Emma. It’s amazing what sprites considered “fun!”

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