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And every trace of the fresh butchery

And cooking, the God soon made disappear,

As if it all had vanished through the sky; [hair,— He burned the hoofs and horns and head and

The insatiate fire devoured them hungrily ;— And when he saw that everything was clear,

He quenched the coals and trampled the black dust,

And in the stream his bloody sandals tossed.

All night he worked in the serene moonshine—
But when the light of day was spread abroad

He sought his natal mountain-peaks divine.
On his long wandering, neither man nor god

Had met him, since he killed Apollo's kine,
Nor house-dog had barked at him on his road;

Now he obliquely through the key-hole passed,

Like a thin mist, or an autumnal blast.


Right through the temple of the spacious cave
He went with soft light feet—as if his tread

Fell not on earth; no sound their falling gave;
Then to his cradle he crept quick, and spread

The swaddling-clothes about him ; and the knave Lay playing with the covering of the bed,

With his left hand about his knees—the right

Held his beloved tortoise-lyre tight.

There he lay innocent as a new-born child,
As gossips say; but, though he was a god,

The goddess, his fair mother, unbeguiled
Knew all that he had done, being abroad;

"Whence come you, and from what adventure wild, You cunning rogue, and where have you abode

All the long night, clothed in your impudence?

What have you done since you departed hence 1

"Apollo soon will pass within this gate,
And bind your tender body in a chain

Inextricably tight, and fast as fate,
Unless you can delude the God again,

Even when within his arms—ah, runagate!
A pretty torment both for gods and men

Your lather made when he made you !"—" Dear mother,"

Replied sly Hermes," wherefore scold and bother?

xxvm, "As if I were like other babes as old,

And understood nothing of what is what; And cared at all to hear my mother scold.

1 in my subtle brain a scheme have got, [rolled, Which, whilst the sacred stars round Heaven are

Will profit you and me—nor shall our lot
Be as you counsel, without gifts or food,
To spend our lives in this obscure abode.

"But we will leave this shadow-peopled cave, And live among the Gods, and pass each day

Id high communion, sharing what they have
Of profuse wealth and unexhausted prey

And, from the portion which my father gave
To Phoebus, I will snatch my share away,

Which if my father will not—nathclesse I,

Who am the king of robbers, can but try.

"And, if Latona's son should find me out, I'll countermine him by a deeper plan;

I'll pierce the Pythian temple-walls, though stout,
And sack the fane of everything I can—

Caldrons and tripods of great worth no doubt,
Each golden cup and polished brazen pan,

All the wrought tapestries and garments gay."

So they together talked;—meanwhile the Day


Ethereal born, arose out of the flood
Of flowing Ocean, bearing light to men.

Apollo past toward the sacred wood,

Which from the inmost depths of its green glen

Echoes the voice of Neptune,—and there stood On the same spot in green Onchestus then

That same old animal, the vine-dresser,

Who was employed hedging his vineyard there.


Latona's glorious Son began :—" I pray

Tell, ancient hedger of Onchestus green, Whether a drove of kine has past this way,

All heifers with crookedhorns? for they have been Stolen from the herd in high Picria,

Where a black bull was fed apart, between Two woody mountains in a neighbouring glen, And four fierce dogs watched there, unanimous ;is men.

xxxui. "And, what is strange, the author of this theft

Has stolen the fatted heifers every one, But the four dogs and the black bull are left:—

Stolen they were last night at set of sun, Of their soft beds and their sweet food bereft—

Now tell me, man born ere the world begun, Have you seen any one pass with the cows ?"— To whom the man of overhanging brows,—

"My friend, it would require no common skill Justly to speak of everything I see;

On various purposes of good or ill

Many pass by my vineyard,—and to me

'Tis difficult to know the invisible

Thoughts, which in all those many minds may

Thus much alone I certainly can say, [be :—

I tilled these vines till the decline of day,

"And then I thought I saw, but dare not speak With certainty of such a wondrous thing,

A child, who could not have been born a week,
Those fair-horned cattle closely following,

And in his hand he held a polished stick:
And, as on purpose, he walked wavering

From one side to the other of the road,

And with his face opposed the steps he trod."

xxxvi. Apollo, hearing this, passed quickly on—

No winged omen could have shown more clear That the deceiver was his father's son.

So the God wraps a purple atmosphere Around his shoulders, and like fire is gone

To famous Pylos, seeking his kine there, And found their track and his, yet hardly cold, And cried—" What wonder do mine eyes behold!

"Hero are the footsteps of the horned herd Turned back towards their fields of asphodel;—

But these! are not the tracks'of beast or bird,
Grey wolf, or bear, or lion of the dell,

Or maned Centaur—sand was never stirred
By man or woman thus! Inexplicable!

Who with unwearied feet could e'er impress

The sand with such enormous vestiges i

"That was most strange—but this is stranger still!" Thus having said, Phoebus impetuously

Sought high Cyllene's forest-cinctured hill,
And the deep cavern where dark shadows lie,

And where the ambrosial nymph with happy will
Bore the Saturnian's love-child, Mercury—

And a delighted odour from the dew

Of the hill pastures, at his coming, flew.

And Phoebus stooped under the craggy roof Arched over the dark cavern:—Maia's child

Perceived that he came angry, far aloof,

About the cows of which he had been beguiled,

And over him the fine and fragrant woof

Of his ambrosial swaddling-clothes he piled—

As among firebrands lies a burning spark

Covered, beneath the ashes cold and dark.

There, like an infant who had sucked his fill,
And now was newly washed and put to bed,

Awake, but courting sleep with weary will
And gathered in a lump, hands, feet, and head,

lie lay, and his beloved tortoise still

He grasped and held under his shoulder-blade;

Phoobus the lovely mountain goddess knew,

Not less her subtle, swindling baby, who

Lay swathed in his sly wiles. Round even crook Of the ample cavern, for his kine Apollo

Looked sharp ; and when he saw them not, he tool. The glittering key, and opened three great hollow

Recesses in the rock—where many a nook

Was filled with the sweet food immortalsswallow.

And mighty heaps of silver and of gold

Were piled within—a wonder to behold!

And white and silver robes, all overwrought
With cunning workmanship of tracery sweet—

Except among the Gods there can be nought •
In the wide world to be compared with it.

Latona's offspring, after having sought
His herds in every corner, thus did'greet

Great Hermes:—" Little cradled rogue, declare,

Of my illustrious heifers, where they arc!

"Speak quickly! or a quarrel between us Must rise, and the event will be, that I

Shall haul you into dismal Tartarus,
In fiery gloom to dwell eternally!

Nor shall your father nor your mother loose
The bars of that black dungeon—utterly

You shall be east out from the light of day,

To rule the ghosts of men, unblest as they."

To whom thus Hermes slily answered :—" Son Of great Latona, what a speech is this!

Why come you here to ask me what ia done With the wild oxen which it seems you mia!

I have not seen them, nor from any one Have heard a word of the whole business;

If you should promise an immense reward,

I could not tell more than you now have heard.

« An ox-stealer should be both tall and strong, And I am but a little new-born thing,

Who, yet at least, can think of nothing wrong:—
My business is to suck, and sleep, and fling

The cradle-clothes about me all day long,—
Or, half asleep, hear my sweet mother sing,

And to be washed in water clean and warm,

And bushed and kissed and kept secure from harm.

"Oh, let not e'er this quarrel be averred!

The astounded Gods would laugh at yon, if e'er You should allege a story Bo absurd,

As that a new-born infant forth could fare Ont of his home after a savage herd.

I was born yesterday—my small feet are Too tender for the roads so hard and rough:— And if you think that this is not enough,

"I swear a great oath, by my father's head, That I stole not your cows, and that I know

Of no one else who might, or could, or did.— Whatever things cows are I do not know,

For I have only heard the name."—Th^< said, He winked as fast as could be, and Ins brew

Was wrinkled, and a whistle loud gave he, i Like one who hears some strange absurdity.

xLvm. Apollo gently smiled and said :—" Aye, aye,—

You cunning little rascal, you will bore Many a rich man's house, and your amy

Of thieves will lay their siege before ha door, Silent as night, in night; and many a day

In the wild glens rough shepherds will dejikre That you or yours, having an appetite, Met with their cattle, comrade of the night!

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"You little swaddled child of Jove and May!" And seized him:—" By this omen I shall trace

My noble herds, and you shall lead the way."— Cyllenian Hermes from the grassy place,

Like one in earnest haste to get away,

Rose, and with hands lifted towards his face,

Round both his ears up from his shoulder's drew

His swaddling clothes, and—" What mean you to do

"With me, you unkind God I"—said Mercury: "Is it about these cows you teaze me so!

I wish the race of cows were perished !—I
Stole not your cows—I do not even know

What things cows are. Alas! I well may sigh,
That, since I came into this world of woe,

I should have ever heard the name of one—

But I appeal to the Saturnian's throne."

Thus Phoebus and the vagrant Mercury

Talked without coming to an explanation, With adverse purpose. As for Phoebus, he Sought not revenge, but only information, And Hermes tried with lies and roguery

To cheat Apollo.—But when no evasion Served—for the cunning one his match had foundHe paced on first over the sandy ground.

He of the Silver Bow, the child of Jove, Followed behind, till to their heavenly Sire

Came both his children—beautiful as Love, And from his equal balance did require

A judgment in the cause wherein they strove.

O'er odorous Olympus and its snows

A murmuring tumult as they came arose,—

And from the folded depths of the great Hill,
While Hermes and Apollo reverent stood

Before Jove's throne, the indestructible
Immortals rushed in mighty multitude;

And, whilst their seats in order due they fill,
The lofty Thunderer in a careless mood

To Phoebus said:—" Whence drive you this sweet

This herald-baby, born but yesterday 1— [prey,

I. VI.

"A most important subject, trifler, this

To lay before the Gods!"—« Nay, father, nay,

When you have understood the business,
Say not that I alone am fond of prey.

I found this little boy in a recess

Under Cyllene's mountains far away—

A manifest and most apparent thief,

A scandal-monger beyond all belief.


"I never saw his like cither in heaven Or upon earth for knavery or craft:—

Out of the field my cattle yester-even,

By the low shore on which the loud sea laughed,

He right down to the river-ford had driven; And mere astonishment would make you daft

To see the double kind of footsteps strange

He has impressed wherever he did range.

« The cattle's track on the black dust full well

Is evident, as if they went towards The place from which they came—that asphodel

Meadow, in which I feed my many herds; His steps were most incomprehensible—

I know not how I can describe in words Those tracks—he could have pone along the sands Neither upon his feet nor on his hands;—

"He must have had some other stranger mode Of moving on: those vestigos immense,

Far as I traced them on the sandy road,
Seemed like the trail of oak-toppings:—but thence

No mark nor track denoting where they trod
The hard ground gave:—but, working at his fence,

A mortal hedger saw him as he past

To Pylos, with the cows, in fiery haste.

"I found that in the dark he quietly

Had sacrificed some cows, and before light

Had thrown the ashes all dispersedly

About the road—then, still as gloomy night,

Had crept into his cradle, either eye

Rubbing, and cogitating some new sleight.

No eagle could have seen him as he lay

Hid in his cavern from the peering day.

"I taxed him with the fact, when he averred
Most solemnly that he did neither see

Nor even had in any manner heard
Of my lost cows, whatever things cows be;

Nor could he tell, though offered a reward,
Not even who could tell of them to me."

So speaking, Phoebus sate; and Hermes then

Addressed the Supreme Lord of Gods and Men:

"Great Father, you know clearly beforehand
That all which I shall say to you is sooth;

I am a most veracious person, and
Totally unacquainted with untruth.

At sunrise Phoebus came, but with no band
Of Gods to bear him witness, in great wrath

To my abode, seeking his heifers there,

And saying that I must show him where they are,

"Or he would hurl me down the dark abyss.

I know that every Apollonian limb Is clothed with speed and might and manliness,

As a green bank with flowers—but unlike hiin I was born yesterday, and you may guess

He well knew this when he indulged the whim Of bullying a poor little new-born thing That slept, and never thought of cow-driving.

"Am I like a strong fellow who steals kine?

Believe me, dearest Father, such you are, This driving of the herds is none of mine;

Across my threshold did I wander ne'er, So may I thrive I I reverence the divine

Sun and the Gods, and I love you, and care Even for this hard accuser—who must know I am as innocent as they or you.

"I swear by these mostgloriously-wroughtportals(It is, you will allow, an oath of might)

Through which the multitude of the Immortals
Pass and repass for ever, day and night,

Devising schemes for the affairs of mortals—
That I am guiltless; and I will requite,

Although mine enemy be great and strong.

His cruel threat—do thou defend the young!"

So speaking, the Cyllenian Argiphont

Winked, as if now his adversary was fitted :

And Jupiter, according to his wont,

Laughed heartily to hear the subtle-witted

Infant give such a plausible account,
And every word a lie. But he remitted

Judgment at present—and his exhortation

Was, to compose the affair by arbitration.

And they by mighty Jupiter were bidden
To go forth with a single purpose both,

Neither the other chiding nor yet chidden:
And Mercury with innocence and truth

To lead the way, and show where he had hidden
The mighty heifers.—Hermes, nothing loth,

Obeyed the jEgis-bearer's will—for he

Is able to persuade all easily.

These lovely children of Heaven's highest Lord Hastened to Pylos and the pastures wide

And lofty stalls by the Alphean ford,

Where wealth in the mute night is multiplied

With silent growth. Whilst Hermes drove the herd Out of the stony cavern, Phoebus spied

The hides of those the little babe had slain,

Stretched on the precipice above the plain.

"How was it possible," then Phoebus said,
"That you, a little child, born yesterday,

A thing on mother's milk and kisses fed,
Could two prodigious heifers ever flay!

E'en I myself may well hereafter dread
Your prowess, offspring of Cyllenian May,

When you grow strong and tall."—He spoke, and

Stiff withy bands the infant's wrists around, [bound

He might as well have bound the oxen wild;

The withy bands, though Btarkly interknit, Fell at the feet of the immortal child,

Loosened by some device of his quick wit. Phoebus perceived himself again beguiled,

And stared—while Hermes sought some hole or Looking askance and winking fast as thought, [pit, Where he might hide himself, and not be caught.

Sudden he changed his plan, and with strange skill Subdued the strong Latonian, by the might

Of winning music, to his mightier will;

His left hand held the lyre, and in his right

The plectrum struck the chord*—unconquerable Up from beneath his hand in circling flight

The gathering music rose—and sweet as Love

The penetrating notes did live and move


Within the heart of great Apollo—he Listened with all his soul, and laugh ed for pi

Close to his side stood harping fearlessly The unabashed boy; and to the measure

Of the sweet lyre, there followed loud and fi His joyous voice; for he unlocked the

Of his deep song, illustrating the birth

Of the bright Gods and the dark desert Earth

And how to the Immortals every one
A portion was assigned of all that is;

But chief Mnemosyne did Maia's son

Clothe in the light of his loud melodies;—

And, as each God was born or had begun,
He in their order due and fit degrees

Sung of his birth and being—and did move

Apollo to unutterable love.


These words were winged with his swift deli eh t: "You heifer-stealing schemer, well do you

Deserve that fifty oxen should requite

Such minstrelsies as I have heard even now.

Comrade of feasts, little contriving wight,
One of your secrets I would gladly know,

Whether the glorious power you now show forth

Was folded up within you at your birth,

"Or whether mortal taught or God inspired The power of unpremeditated song!

Many divinest sounds have I admired

The Olympian Gods and mortal men among;

But such a strain of wondrous, strange, untired. And soul-awakening music, sweet and strong,

Yet did I never hear except from thee,

Offspring of May, impostor Mercury!

'* What Muse, what skill, what unimagined use, What exercise of subtlest art, has given [cboo-*

Thy songs such power!—for those who hear may From three, the choicest of the gifts of Heavm,

Delight, and love, and sleep, sweet sleep.whose dews Are sweeter than the balmy tears of even:—

And I, who speak this praise, am that Apollo

Whom the Olympian Muses ever follow:

"And their delight is dance, and the blithe nots?

Of song and everflowing poesy;
And sweet, even as desire, the liquid voice

Of pipes, that fills the clear air thrillingly;
But never did my inmost soul rejoice

In this dear work of youthful revelry,
As now I wonder at thee, son of Jove;
Thy harpings and thy song are soft as love.

"Now since thou hast, although so very sm»l;. Science of arts so glorious, thus I swear,—

And let this cornel javelin, keen and tall. Witness between us what I promise here,

That I will lead thee to the Olympian Hall, Honoured and mighty, with thy mother dear,

And many glorious gifts in joy will give thee.

And even at the end will ne'er deceive thee."

To whom thus Mercury with prudent speech:— "Wisely hast thou inquired of my skill:

I envy thee no thing I know to teach
Even this day :—for both in word and will

I would be gentle with thee ; thou canst reach
A1J things in thy wise spirit, and thy sill

Is highest in heaven among the sons of Jove,

Who loves thee in the fulness of his love.

"The Counsellor Supreme has given to thee Divinest gifts, out of the amplitude

Of his profuse exhaustless treasury;
By thee, 'tis said, the depths are understood

Of his far voice; by thee the mystery
Of all oracular fates,—and the dread mood

Of the diviner is breathed up, even I—

A child—perceive thy might and majesty—

"Thou canst seek out and compass all that wit Can find or teach;—yet since thou wilt, come, take

The lyre—be mine the glory giving it—

Strike the sweet chords, and sing aloud, and wake

Thy joyous pleasure out of many a fit

Of tranced sound—and with fleet fingers make

Thy liquid-voiced comrade talk with thee,—

11 can talk measured music eloquently.


"Then bear it boldly to the revel loud,

Love-wakening dance, or feast of solemn state,

A joy by night or day—for those endowed
With art and wisdom who interrogate

It teaches, babbling in delightful mood,
All things which make the spirit most elate,

Soothing the mind with sweet familiar play,

Chasing the heavy shadows of dismay.

"To those who are unskilled in its sweet tongue, Though they should question most impetuously

Its hidden soul, it gossips something wrong—
Some senseless and impertinent reply

But thou who art as wise as thou art strong,
Can'st compass all that thou desirest. I

Present thee with this music-flowing shell,

Knowing thou canst interrogate it well.

"And let us two henceforth together feed

On this green mountain slope and pastoral plain,

The herds in litigation—they will breed
Quickly enough to recompense our pain,

If to the bulls and cows we take good heed;—
And thou, though somewhat overfond of gam,

Grudge me not half the profit."—Having spoke,

The shell he proffered, and Apollo took.

And gave him in return the glittering lash,
Installing him as herdsman ;—from the look

Of Mercury then laughed a joyous flash;
And then Apollo with the plectrum strook

The chords, and from beneath his hands a crash
Of mighty sounds rushed up, whose music shook

The soul with sweetness, and like an adept

His sweeter voice a just accordance kept.

The herd went wandering o'er the divine mead,
Whilst these most beautiful Sons of Jupiter

Won their swift way up to the snowy head
Of white Olympus, with the joyous lyre

Soothing their journey ; and their father dread
Gathered them both into familiar

Affection sweet,—and then, and now, and ever,

Hermes must love Him of the Golden Quiver,

To whom he gave the lyre that sweetly sounded, Which skilfully he held and played thereon.

He piped the while, and far and wide rebounded
The echo of his pipings; every one

Of the Olympians sat with joy astounded,
While he conceived another piece of fun,

One of his old tricks—which the God of Day

Perceiving, said:—" I fear thee, Son of May ;—

"1 fear thee and thy sly chamelion spirit.

Lest thou should'st steal my lyre and crooked bow; This glory and power thou dost from Jove inherit,

To teach all craft upon the earth below;
Thieves love and worship thee—it is thy merit

To make all mortal business ebb and flow
By roguery:—now, Hermes, if you dare
By sacred Styx a mighty oath to swear,

"That you will never rob me, you will do
A thing extremely pleasing to my heart."

Then Mercury sware by the Stygian dew,
That he would never steal his bow or dart,

Or lay his hands on what to him was due,
Or ever would employ his powerful art

Against his Pythian fane. Then Phoebus swore

There was no God or man whom he loved more.

"And I will give thee as a good-will token The beautiful wand of wealth and happiness;

A perfect three-leaved rod of gold unbroken,
Whose magic will thy footsteps ever bless;

And whatsoever by Jove's voice is spoken
Of earthly or divine from its recess,

It like a loving soul to thee will speak,

And more than this do thou forbear to seek:

"For, dearest child, the divinations high
Which thou requirest, 'tis unlawful ever

That thou, or any other deity,
Should understand—and vain were the endeavour;

For they arc hidden in Jove's mind, and I,
In trust of them, have sworn that I would never

Betray the counsels of Jove's inmost will

To any God—the oath was terrible.

xcir. "Then, golden-wanded brother, ask me not

To speak the fates by Jupiter designed; But be it mine to tell their various lot

To the unnumbered tribes of human kind.
Let good to these and ill to those be wrought

As I dispense—but he who comes consigned
By voice and wings of perfect augury
To my great shrine, shall find avail in me.


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