Poetry

Pan-Worship

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In Arcady there lies a crystal spring
Ring’d all about with green melodious reeds
Swaying seal’d music up and down the wind.
Here on its time-defacèd pedestal
The image of a half-forgotten God
Crumbles to its complete oblivion.
The faithful and invariable earth
Tilts at the shrine her sacrificial cup,
Spilling libations from the brim that runs
The golden nectar of her daffodils
And rivulets of summer-breathing flow’rs.
O evanescent temples built of man
To deities he honoured and dethroned!
Earth shoots a trail of her eternal vine
To crown the head that men have ceased to honour.
Beneath the coronal of leaf and lichen
The mocking smile upon the lips derides
Pan’s lost dominion; but the pointed ears
Are keen and prick’d with old remember’d sounds.
All my breast aches with longing for the past!
Thou God of stone, I have a craving in me
For knowledge of thee as thou wert in old
Enchanted twilights in Arcadia.
Arcadia! it is the very music
Of the first spring-tide rippling its first wave
Over the naked, laughing baby world …
Come again, thou sparkling spring-tide, come again,
Rush in and flood this autumn from my soul!
These waters welling at a dead God’s shrine,
These happy waters bubbling limpid kisses,
Even with such bright and eager lips made wet
The hem of the earth’s garment in the days
When earth was youthful and the Gods of Greece
In starry constellation crowned Olympus.
What drifting mists have veil’d the Olympian fires?
What of the Gods of Greece? and what of Greece?
O virgin Greece, standing with naked feet
In the morning dews of the world against the light
Of an infant dawn! old Greece, ever-young Greece,
The pagan in my blood, the instinct in me
That yearns back, back to nature-worship, cries
Aloud to thee! I would stoop to kiss those feet,
Sweet white wet feet washed with the earth’s first dews:—
And leaning ear to grass I would re-catch
Echoes of footsteps sounding down dim ages
For ever the music once they made on thee:
The flaming step of the young Apollo when,
With limbs like light and golden locks toss’d back
On a smooth ivory shoulder, he avenged
His mother’s wrongs on Python: the dreaming step
Of Hylas in the woods of Mysia
Leading to sleep beneath sweet sylvan waters:
The laughing step of untrammell’d Atalanta
Spurning the ground before her golden capture:
Child-Proserpina stepping like a flower,
And the singing step of Syrinx fleeing—what?
If thou couldst speak, neglected, sneering stone,
Thou wouldst know how to answer me. Wilt thou
Not speak?… How still it is!… The noise of the world
Is shut about with silence!… If I kneel,
Bend and adore, make sacrifice to thee,
If to thy long-deserted fane I bring
Tribute of milk and honey—then if I snap
That loveliest pipe of all at the spring’s margin
And let the song of Syrinx from its hollow,
Nay, even the nymph’s sweet self—O Pan, old Pan,
Shall I not see thee stirring in the stone,
Crack thy confinement, leap forth—be again?
I can believe it, master of bright streams,
Lord of green woodlands, king of sun-spread plains
And star-splashed hills and valleys drenched in moonlight!
And I shall see again a dance of Dryads
And airy shapes of Oreads circling free
To shy sweet pipings of fantastic fauns
And lustier-breathing satyrs … God of Nature,
Thrice hailing thee by name with boisterous lungs
I will thrill thee back from the dead ages, thus:
Pan! Pan! O Pan! bring back thy reign again
Upon the earth!…
Numb pointed ears, ye hear
Only the wash and whisper of far waters,
The pale green waters of thin distant Springs
Under the pale green light of distant moons
Washing upon the shores of the old, old world
With a foam of flowers, a foam of whispering flowers….

Companion art: The Nymph and the Children of Pan by Jean-Pol GRANDMONT

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