Cupid and Pan

Cupid saw Pan stretcht at full length asleep.
He snatcht the goatskin from the half-covered limbs,
And, now in this place now in that twitcht up
A stiff curv'd hair: meanwhile the slumberer
Blew from his ruddy breast all care about
His flock, all care about the snow, that hung
Only where creviced rocks rose bleak and high,
And felt . . what any cork-tree's bark may feel.
His hemlock pipe lay underneath his neck:
But even this the wicked boy stole out,
And unperceived . . save that he twinkled once
His hard sharp ear, and laid it down again.
" Jupiter! is there any God" said Love,
" Sluggish as this prick-ear one! verily
Not thy own wife could stir or waken him."
Between his rosy lips he laid the pipe
And blew it shrilly: that loud sound did wake
The sleeper: up sprang then two ears at once
Above the grass; up sprang the wrathful God
And shook the ground beneath him with his leap.
But quite as quickly and much higher sprang
The audacious boy, deriding him outright.
" Down with those arrows, wicked imp! that bow,
Down with it; then what canst thou do?"
" What then,
Pan, I can do, soon shalt thou see . . There! there!"
He spake, and threw them at Pan's feet: the bow,
The golden bow, sprang up again, and flowers
Cradled the quiver as it struck the earth.
" 'Twould shame me."
" In my conflicts shame is none,
Even for the vanquisht: check but wrath: come on:
Come, modest one! close with me, hand to hand."
Pan rolled his yellow eyes, and suddenly
Snatcht (as a fowler with his net, who fears
To spoil the feathers of some rarer bird)
Love's slender arm, taunting and teasing him
Nearer and nearer. Then, if ne'er before,
The ruddy color left his face; 'tis said
He trembled too, like one whom sudden flakes
Of snow have fallen on, amidst a game
Of quoits or ball in a warm day of spring.
" Go! go!" the Arcadian cried " and learn respect
To betters, at due distance, and hold back
Big words, that suit such littleness but ill.
Why, anyone (unless thou wert a God)
Would swear thou hast not yet seen thrice five years
And yet thou urgest . . nay, thou challengest
Me, even me, quiet, and half-asleep.
Off! or beware the willow-twig, thy due."
Now shame and anger seized upon the boy;
He raised his stature, and he aim'd a blow
Where the broad hairy breast stood quite exposed
Without the goatskin, swifter than the bird
Of Jove, or than the lightning he has borne.
Wary was the Arcadian, and he caught
The coming fist: it burnt as burns the fire
Upon the altar. The wise elder loost
His hold, and blew upon his open palm
From rounded cheeks a long thin breath, and then
Tried to encompass with both arms the neck
And waist of the boy God: with tremulous pulse
He fain would twist his hard long leg between
The smoother, and trip up, if trip he might,
The tenderer foot, and fit and fit again
The uncertain and insatiate grasp upon
A yielding marble, dazzling eye and brain.
He could not wish the battle at an end,
No, not to conquer; such was the delight;
But glory, ah deceitful glory, seized
(Or somewhat did) one born not to obey.
When Love, unequal to such strength, had nigh
Succumbed, he made one effort more, and caught
The horn above him: he from Arcady
Laught as he tost him up on high: nor then
Forgot the child his cunning. While the foe
Was crying " Yield thee," and was running o'er
The provinces of conquest, now with one
Now with the other hand, their pleasant change,
Losing and then recovering what they lost,
Love from his wing drew one short feather forth
And smote the eyes devouring him. Then rang
The rivers and deep lakes, and groves and vales
Throughout their windings. Ladon heard the roar
And broke into the marsh: Alphius heard
Stymphalos, Maenalos (Pan's far-off home),
Cyllene, Pholoe, Parthenos, who stared
On Tegea's and Lycaeosis affright.
The winged horse who, no long while before,
Was seen upon Parnassus, bold and proud,
Is said (it may be true, it may be false)
To have slunk down before that cry of Pan,
And to have run into a shady cave
With broken spirit, and there lain for years,
Nor once have shaken the Castilian rill
With neigh, or ruffling of that mighty mane.
" Hail, conqueror!" cried out Love: but Pan cried out
Sadder, " Ah never shall I see again
My woodland realm! ah never more behold
The melting snow borne down and rolled along
The whirling brook; nor river full and large,
Nor smooth and purple pebble in the ford,
Nor white round cloud that rolls o'er vernal sky,
Nor the mild fire that Hesper lights for us
To sing by, when the sun is gone to rest.
Woe! woe! the blind have but one place on earth,
And blind am I . . blind, wander where I may!
Spare me! now spare me, Cupid! 'Twas not I
Began the contest; 'tis not meet for me
First to ask peace; peace, peace is all I ask;
Victory well may grant this only boon."
Then held he out his hand; but knowing not
Whether he held it opposite his foe,
Huge tears ran down both cheeks. Love grew more mild
At seeing this, and said . .
" Cheer up! behold
A remedy; upon one pact applied,
That thou remove not this light monument
Of my success, but leave it there for me."
Amaranth was the flower he chose the first;
'Twas brittle and dropt broken; one white rose
(All roses then were white) he softly prest;
Narcissusses and violets took their turn,
And lofty open-hearted lilies their's,
And lesser ones with modest heads just rais'd
Above the turf, shaking alternate bells.
The slenderest of all myrtle twigs held these
Together, and across both eyes confined.
Smart was the pain they gave him, first applied:
He stampt, he groan'd, he bared his teeth, and heaved
To nostril the broad ridges of his lip.
After a while, however, he was heard
To sing again; and better rested he
Among the strawberries, whose fragrant leaf
Deceives with ruddy hue the searching sight
In its late season: he grew brave enough
To trill in easy song the pliant names
Of half the Dryads; proud enough to deck
His beauty out . . down went at last the band.
Renewed were then his sorrow and his shame.
He hied to Paphos: he must now implore
Again his proud subduer. At the gate
Stood Venus, and spake thus.
" Why hast thou torn
Our gifts away? No gentle chastisement
Awaits thee now. The bands my son imposed,
He would in time, his own good time, remove.
O goat-foot! he who dares despise our gifts
Rues it at last. Soon, soon another wreath
Shall bind thy brow, and no such flowers be there."
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