Once a Week (magazine)/Series 1/Volume 8/Pan vinctus—Pan victor



Pan sate blowing his pipe of reeds,
Where the ferns branched over him,
And the sun’s great orb of burning gold
Was hid by an oak’s huge limb:
He piped to the Fauns and the Nymphs unseen,
And the Dryads hiding the boughs between,
In that fir wood mossy and dim.


He sate and played on his magic pipe
Under the fir-tree’s odorous cones,
The nightingales with envy heard
The wealth of those deep, rich tones,
Fluting, gurgling, trilling, thrilling,
All the woods with music filling,
Cheering the gods on their thrones.


The sunshine played round his laughing face,
The shadows crept to his feet,
The birds came fluttering round the boughs
To hear that song so sweet,
Flowing, rippling, fluttering, rising,
Or with a gladdening joy surprising,
As of a cymbal beat.


The mole crept up to listen and mark,
The squirrel stole down to hear,
For joy the very fish in the stream
Were leaping far and near,
As the pipe was breathing softly, lowly,
Now soaring swift, now sinking slowly,
With a mirth that laughed at fear.


Two hunters, tracking a wounded stag,
Came peeping through the trees,
With pursed-up mouths and hands to their ears,
To catch and question the breeze:
They heard the pipe, like a wild bird singing,
Pour out its pure and silvery ringing,
As they stealthily couched on their knees.


They leaped out fierce on the heedless Pan,
With bow-strings bound his hands;
They led him back to the little town,
Followed by boors in bands.
Loosing him then, they set him playing,
And the notes went soaring, fluttering, swaying,
Over the stubble lands.


Then the fishermen threw down their spangled nets,
And the vineyardmen their knives,
And slaves came running to hear the song,
With the youths, and children, and wives,
As the notes went gushing and bubbling forth,
With echoes that answered from south to north,
As thick as bees from their hives.


“Brain him!” cried out a butcher’s slave;
While a priest whispered “Sacrifice;”
And a murderous thirst for the Satyr’s blood
Reddened the fishermen’s eyes.
But still the music went rippling on,
The glad notes chasing the glad notes gone,
Like runners seeking a prize.


Then Pan blew a longer, wilder note,
And the fir woods stirred and shook,
Then there came a rush of hairy hoofs
Down the banks and over the brook.
And still the pipe went murmuring,
As the stream bursts forth from its mountain spring:
There were Satyrs in every nook!


And on with a lusty shout they came,
Clashing cymbals with might and main,
Waving sheep-crooks in homage rude,
Dancing welcome over the plain;
And still their Monarch sate still and played,
By neither priest nor slave dismayed,
Nor by their threatening train.


Then Pan, in his anger, changed those men
To aspens, and such poor shivering trees,
And ever since they have stood by that town
Trembling to every fitful breeze,
As if that pipe was murmuring still,
Sending its magic o’er plain and hill,
O’er river, rocks, and leas.