Poetry Explorer- Classic Contemporary Poetry, PAN IN LOVE, by WILLIAM WETMORE STORY

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Classic and Contemporary Poetry

PAN IN LOVE, by                     Poet's Biography
First Line: Nay! If you will not sit upon my knee
Last Line: But no one knows such secrets as old pan.
Subject(s): Love; Mythology - Classical; Pan (mythology)

NAY! if you will not sit upon my knee,
Lie on that bank, and listen while I play
A sylvan song upon these reedy pipes.
In the full moonrise as I lay last night
Under the alders on Peneus' banks,
Dabbling my hoofs in the cool stream that welled
Wine-dark with gleamy ripples round their roots,
I made the song the while I shaped the pipes.
'T is all of you and love, as you shall hear.
The drooping lilies, as I sang it, heaved
Upon their broad green leaves, and underneath,
Swift silvery fishes, poised on quivering fins,
Hung motionless to listen; in the grass
The crickets ceased to shrill their tiny bells;
And even the nightingale, that all the eve,
Hid in the grove's deep green, had throbbed and thrilled,
Paused in his strain of love to list to mine.
Bacchus is handsome, but such songs as this
He cannot shape, and better loves the clash
Of brazen cymbals than my reedy pipes.
Fair as he is without, he 's coarse within,—
Gross in his nature, loving noise and wine,
And, tipsy, half the time goes reeling round
Leaning on old Silenus' shoulders fat.
But I have scores of songs that no one knows,
Not even Apollo, no, nor Mercury,—
Their strings can never sing like my sweet pipes,—
Some, that will make fierce tigers rub their fur
Against the oak trunks for delight, or stretch
Their plump sides for my pillow on the sward.
Some, that will make the satyrs' clattering hoofs
Leap when they hear, and from their noonday dreams
Start up to stamp a wild and frolic dance
In the green shadows. Ay! and better songs,
Made for the delicate nice ears of nymphs,
Which while I sing my pipes shall imitate
The droning bass of honey-seeking bees,
The tinkling tenor of clear pebbly streams,
The breezy alto of the alder's sighs,
And all the airy sounds that lull the grove
When noon falls fast asleep among the hills.
Nor only these,—for I can pipe to you
Songs that will make the slippery vipers pause,
And stay the stags to gaze with their great eyes;
Such songs—and you shall hear them if you will—
That Bacchus' self would give his hide to hear.
If you 'll but love me every day, I 'll bring
The coyest flowers, such as you never saw,
To deck you with. I know their secret nooks,—
They cannot hide themselves away from Pan.
And you shall have rare garlands; and your bed
Of fragrant mosses shall be sprinkled o'er
With violets like your eyes,—just for a kiss.
Love me, and you shall do whate'er you like,
And shall be tended wheresoe'er you go,
And not a beast shall hurt you,—not a toad
But at your bidding give his jewel up.
The speckled shining snakes shall never sting,
But twist like bracelets round your rosy arms,
And keep your bosom cool in the hot noon.
You shall have berries ripe of every kind,
And luscious peaches, and wild nectarines,
And sun-flecked apricots, and honeyed dates,
And wine from bee-stung grapes, drunk with the sun
(Such wine as Bacchus never tasted yet).
And not a poisonous plant shall have the power
To tetter your white flesh, if you 'll love Pan.
And then I 'll tell you tales that no one knows;
Of what the pines talk in the summer nights,
When far above you hear them murmuring,
As they sway whispering to the lifting breeze;
And what the storm shrieks to the struggling oaks
As it flies through them hurrying to the sea
From mountain crags and cliffs. Or, when you 're sad,
I 'll tell you tales that solemn cypresses
Have whispered to me. There's not anything
Hid in the woods and dales and dark ravines,
Shadowed in dripping caves, or by the shore,
Slipping from sight, but I can tell to you.
Plump, dull-eared Bacchus, thinking of himself,
Never can catch a syllable of this;
But with my shaggy ear against the grass
I hear the secrets hidden underground,
And know how in the inner forge of Earth,
The pulse-like hammers of creation beat.
Old Pan is ugly, rough, and rude to see,
But no one knows such secrets as old Pan.

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