Poetry Explorer- Classic Contemporary Poetry, HYMN 5. THE BLINDING OF TIRESIAS, by CALLIMACHUS

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Classic and Contemporary Poetry

HYMN 5. THE BLINDING OF TIRESIAS, by                 Poet's Biography
First Line: One single nymph all other nymphs above
Last Line: Conscious, and honoured of the lord of hosts.'
Alternate Author Name(s): Kallimachos

ONE single Nymph all other Nymphs above
In olden Thebes enjoyed Athena's love,
The mother, maidens, of Tiresias;
And they were never parted: but whenas
Athena crossed Boeotia's toiled lea
Driving her team to ancient Thespiae,
Or Coronea, or Haliartus, -- drove
To Coronea, to where her incensed grove
And altars lie, upon Curalius-side,
Oft in the Goddess' chariot she would ride;
Nor met the Nymphs for converse or for show
Of merry dance but led by Chariclo.
Yet many a tear in store for her there lay,
Even her, Athena's bosom-friend, the day
They loosed their buckles, put their robes away,
On Helicon, by the clear Horsefoot Rill,
And bathed. A noontide stillness held the hill.
They two were bathing: it was full noontide;
And a deep stillness reigned on that hill-side.
Tiresias yet, alone with hounds, (his face
Shading to manhood) ranged that holy place;
And greatly thirsting to the stream came he,
And saw, unpurposed, what he might not see.
Pallas, enraged, yet spoke: 'What Fate, O thou
Not to take hence thine eyes, has led thee now,
Son of Eueres, this rough road?' And night,
Even as she spoke, settled upon his sight.
He stood there speechless; for the torment wrung
And gripped his knees, and palsy tied his tongue.
But the Nymph cried out 'Lady, what hast thou done?
Is this a Goddess' friendship? Alas! my son!
Thou hast taken away his sight. O child unblest!
Thou that hast seen Athena's things and breast
But shalt not see the sun again. Ay me!
O mountain never revisited to be!
O helicon! how heavy is thy price,
That those few fawns should cost my child his eyes!
Both arms about her darling son she bent,
And raised the mournful nightingale's lament,
Heavily wailing. And Athena took
Compassion on her friend, and thus she spoke:
'Lady, all words uttered in wrath unkind
Unsay: it was not I who struck him blind.
Athena has no wish to pluck away
Eyes from a child. 'Tis Cronus' laws that say
"Who seeth any Immortal whatsoe'er,
The God unwilling, it shall cost him dear".
Irrevocably what is done is done,
For so the fatal threads were early spun
The day thou barest him. But now attend,
Son of Eueres, to the appointed end.
What offerings will Cadmus' daughter burn,
What offerings Aristaeus, but to earn
Blindness for their one son, Actaeon! Mate
Though he shall be of Artemis the Great
In hunting, he shall profit from that skill
And common archery upon the hill
Naught, when he sees, although he purpose not,
Her beauteous bath. His own hounds on the spot
Shall eat their master, and his mother rove
Gathering his bones through every upland grove.
Thy fate she'll call most fortunate and kind
To get back thy son from the mountains, blind.
So weep not, comrade: for thy sake remain
Manifold honours for thy son to gain.
Seer I will make him, sung of ages hence,
Having above all seers pre-eminence.
He shall discern all birds of good portent
In flight, and evil, and indifferent.
Much sooth for Thebans, Cadmus, and the line
Of later Labdacus, he shall divine.
A staff I'll give him, in his need to guide
His feet; and years lastingly multiplied.
He only, dead, shall walk among the ghosts
Conscious, and honoured of the Lord of Hosts.'

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