He that erst these legends told
Sang in far-off days of gold,
Ere yet from Earth the bright gods went,
or toiling mortals, prison-pent
Where the frowning cities stand,
Forgot the way to Fairyland.
A blissful child, thro' greenwood bowers
He strayed, amid the April flowers,
And there, 'tis told, he once was found
On pansy pillow sleeping sound,
While the dusky mountain bees
Left for him the clover leas,
Left bluebell copse and crocus mead,
On his dreaming lips to feed.
But, for kisses that they stole,
The wingéd thieves paid wondrous toll,
Hallowing with chrism pure
Those baby lips, their rose-red lure.
Strange the might, as I shall tell,
Hidden in that honey-spell!
For the child, a striping grown,
Still would haunt the forest lone,
Musing, ferny ways along,
The golden themes of antique song—
Wars and perilous wanderings,
Ancient marvels, hero-kings
Vanquishing in dauntless mood
Earth's primaeval dragon-brood,
All glittering quests, all glories won
Since Time's great wheel began to run.
So, like a bee, his aëry thought
Store of secret treasure wrought
From every bud and blossom bright
In Memory's garden of delight.
Many a Summer morn the boy
Ranged the dewy woods in joy;
Many an eve sat, half a-dream,
Where hazels hid a tinkling stream,
While softly to its drowsy chime
His lute's low harmonies kept time.
Then, in some divinest hour,
The magic of the wild-bee dower,
Swift as blaze of slumbering flame,
Sent a rapture thro' his frame.
To the runnel's brink he sprang,
Struck his Dorian lute and sang
Such a song, the nightingale
Hearing, hushed her plaintive tale;
Such a song, the goat-foot Pan
Envied once a child of man!
Yes, the God whose music thrills
Thro' silent places of the hills,
The Watcher of the upland flocks
Who pipes at noon upon the rocks,
Tiptoed near, the boughs among,
Fain to learn that mortal song,
And oft, since then, his reed flung by
To carol it in Arcady.
Great Pan is dead; the woodlands hoar
Ring to his wild notes no more;
And the voice he loved that day
Long from Earth has past away.
Yet still in this her wintry age
Its honey breathes from PINDAR'Spage,
Whereon who looks shall seem to hear
Its very accents warbling clear
Of Thebes or Troy the tale sublime,
Or some green idyll of the prime,
In that sweetest human tongue
Moulded when the world was young.
Ah, might these dissonant echoes vain
Retrieve one cadence of the strain!