Pagina-afbeeldingen
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Until it came to some unfooted plains
Where fed the herds of Pan : ay, great his gains
Who thus one lamb did lose. Paths there were many,
Winding through palmy fern, and rushes fenny,
And ivy banks; all leading pleasantly
To a wide lawn, whence one could only see
Stems thronging all around between the swell
Of tuft and slanting branches : who could tell
The freshness of the space of heaven above,
Edged round with dark tree tops ? through which a dove
Would often beat its wings, and often too
A little cloud would move across the blue.

Full in the middle of this pleasantness
There stood a marble altar, with a tress
Of flowers budded newly ; and the dew
Had taken fairy phantasies to strew
Daisies upon the sacred sward last eve,
And so the dawned light in pomp receive.
For 't was the morn : Apollo's upward fire
Made every eastern cloud a silvery pyre
Of brightness so unsullied, that therein
A melancholy spirit well might win
Oblivion, and melt out his essence fine
Into the winds : rain-scented eglantine
Gave temperate sweets to that well-wooing sun ;
The lark was lost in him ; cold springs had run
To warm their chilliest bubbles in the grass ;
Man's voice was on the mountains ; and the mass
Of nature's lives and wonders pulsed tenfold,
To feel this sun-rise and its glories old.

Now while the silent workings of the dawn
Were busiest, into that self-same lawn
All suddenly, with joyful cries, there sped
A troop of little children garlanded ;
Who gathering round the altar, seem'd to pry
Earnestly round as wishing to espy
Some folk of holiday: nor had they waited
For many moments, ere their ears were sated
With a faint breath of music, which even then
Filld out its voice, and died away again.
Within a little space again it gave
Its airy swellings, with a gentle wave,

To light-hung leaves, in smoothest echoes breaking Through copse-clad valleys,-ere their death, o'ertaking The surgy murmurs of the lonely sea.

And now, as deep into the wood as we
Might mark a lynx's eye, there glimmer'd light
Fair faces and a rush of garments white,
Plainer and plainer showing, till at last
Into the widest alley they all past,
Making directly for the woodland altar.
O kindly muse! let not my weak tongue falter
In telling of this goodly company,
Of their old piety, and of their glee :
But let a portion of ethereal dew
Fall on my head, and presently unmew
My soul ; that I may dare, in wayfaring,
To stammer where old Chaucer used to sing.

Leading the way, young damsels danced along,
Bearing the burden of a shepherd's song;
Each having a white wicker, overbrimm'd
With April's tender younglings : next, well trimm’d,
A crowd of shepherds with as sunburnt looks
As may be read of in Arcadian books ;
Such as sat listening round Apollo's pipe,
When the great deity, for earth too ripe,
Let his divinity o'erflowing die
In music, through the vales of Thessaly :
Some idly traild their sheep-hooks on the ground,
And some kept up a shrilly mellow sound
With ebon-tipped flutes : close after these,
Now coming from beneath the forest trees,
A venerable priest full soberly,
Begirt with ministering looks : alway his eye
Steadfast upon the matted turf he kept,
And after him his sacred vestments swept.
From his right hand there swung a vase, milk-white,
Of mingled wine, out-sparkling generous light ;
And in his left he held a basket full
Of all sweet herbs that searching eye could cull :
Wild thyme, and valley-lilies whiter still
Than Leda's love, and cresses from the rill.
His aged head, crowned with beechen wreath,
Seem'd like a poll of ivy in the teeth

Of winter hoar. Then came another crowd
Of shepherds, lifting in due time aloud
Their share of the ditty. After them appear’d,
Up-follow'd by a multitude that rear'd
Their voices to the clouds, a fair wrought car
Easily rolling so as scarce to mar
The freedom of three steeds of dapple brown :
Who stood therein did seem of great renown
Among the throng. His youth was fully blown,
Showing like Ganymede to manhood grown ;
And, for those simple times, his garments were
A chieftain king's : beneath his breast, half bare,
Was hung a silver bugle, and between
His nervy knees there lay a boar-spear keen.
A smile was on his countenance ; he seem'd
To common lookers-on, like one who dream'd
Of idleness in groves Elysian :
But there were some who feelingly could scan
A lurking trouble in his nether lip,
And see that oftentimes the reins would slip
Through his forgotten hands : then would they sigh,
And think of yellow leaves, of owlets' cry,
Of logs piled solemnly.- Ah, well-a-day,
Why should our young Endymion pine away!

Soon the assembly, in a circle ranged,
Stood silent round the shrine : each look was changed
To sudden veneration : women meek
Beckon'd their sons to silence; while each cheek
Of virgin bloom paled gently for slight fear.
Endymion too, without a forest peer,
Stood, wan, and pale, and with an awed face,
Among his brothers of the mountain chase.
In midst of all, the venerable priest
Eyed them with joy from greatest to the least,
And, after lifting up his aged hands,
Thus spake he: “Men of Latmos ! shepherd bands !
Whose care it is to guard a thousand flocks :
Whether descended from beneath the rocks
That overtop your mountains; whether come
From valleys where the pipe is never dumb;
Or from your swelling downs, where sweet air stirs
Blue hare-bells lightly, and where prickly furze

Buds lavish gold ; or ye, whose precious charge
Nibble their fill at ocean's very marge,
Whose mellow reeds are touch'd with sounds forlorn
By the dim echoes of old Triton's horn :
Mothers and wives ! who day by day prepare
The scrip, with needments, for the mountain air ;
And all ye gentle girls who foster up
Udderless lambs, and in a little cup
Will put choice honey for a favour'd youth :
Yea, every one attend ! for in good truth
Our vows are wanting to our great god Pan.
Are not our lowing heifers sleeker than
Night-swollen mushrooms? Are not our wide plains
Speckled with countless fleeces? Have not rains
Green’d over April's lap? No howling sad
Sickens our fearful ewes ; and we have had
Great bounty from Endymion our lord.
The earth is glad : the merry lark has pour'd
His early song against yon breezy sky,
That spreads so clear o'er our solemnity."

Thus ending, on the shrine he heap'd a spire
Of teeming sweets, enkindling sacred fire ;
Anon he stain'd the thick and spongy sod
With wine, in honour of the shepherd-god.
Now while the earth was drinking it, and while
Bay leaves were crackling in the fragrant pile,
And gummy frankincense was sparkling bright
'Neath smothering parsley, and a hazy light
Spread greyly eastward, thus a chorus sang :

“O thou, whose mighty palace roof doth hang
From jagged trunks, and overshadoweth
Eternal whispers, glooms, the birth, life, death
Of unseen flowers in heavy peacefulness ;
Who lovest to see the hamadryads dress
Their ruffled locks where meeting hazels darken ;
And through whole solemn hours dost sit, and hearken
The dreary melody of bedded reeds-
In desolate places, where dank moisture breeds
The pipy hemlock to strange overgrowth,
Bethinking thee, how melancholy loath
Thou wast to lose fair Syrinx-do thou now,
By thy love's milky brow!

By all the trembling mazes that she ran,
Hear us, great Pan !

“O thou, for whose soul-soothing quiet, turtles Passion their voices cooingly ’mong myrtles, What time thou wanderest at eventide Through sunny meadows, that outskirt the side Of thine enmossed realms : 0 thou, to whom Broad-leaved fig-trees even now foredoom Their ripen'd fruitage ; yellow-girted bees Their golden honeycombs ; our village leas Their fairest blossom'd beans and poppied corn ; The chuckling linnet its five young unborn, To sing for thee ; low creeping strawberries Their summer coolness ; pent up butterflies Their freckled wings; yea, the fresh budding year All its completions—be quickly near, By every wind that nods the mountain pine, O forester divine !

Thou, to whom every faun and satyr flies
For willing service ; whether to surprise
The squatted hare while in half-sleeping it ;
Or upward ragged precipices flit
To save poor lambkins from the eagle's maw;
Or by mysterious enticement draw
Bewilder'd shepherds to their path again ;
Or to tread breathless round the frothy main,
And gather up all fancifullest shells
For thee to tumble into naiads' cells,
And, being hidden, laugh at their out-peeping ;
Or to delight thee with fantastic leaping,
The while

they pelt each other on the crown
With silvery oak-apples, and fir-cones brown-
By all the echoes that about thee ring,
Hear us, 0 satyr king !

• O Hearkener to the loud-clapping shears, While ever and anon to his shorn peers A ram goes bleating : Winder of the horn, When snouted wild-boars routing tender corn Anger our huntsman : Breather round our farms, To keep off mildews, and all weather harms :

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