From the Book of Myths

by Bliss Carman


 

A YOUNG PAN'S PRAYER


 

O pipes of Pan,
Make me a man,
As only your piercing music can!
When I set my lip
To your reedy lip,
5

And you feel the urging man-breath slip

Through fibre and flake,
Bidding you wake
To the strange new being for beauty's sake,
I pray there be

10

Returned to me
The strength of the hills and the strength of the sea.

O river reed,
In whom the need
Of the journeying river once was freed,

15

As of old your will
Was the water's will,
To quiver and call or sleep and be still,

So now anew
I breathe in you

20

The ardour no alchemy can subdue,
And add the dream,—
The immortal gleam
That never yet fell on meadow or stream.

I breathe and blow

25
On your dumb mouth so,
Till your lurking soul is alive and aglow.
Ah, breathe in me
The strength of the sea,
The calm of the hills and the strength of the sea!
30
 
Love, joy, and fear,
From my faint heart here,
Shall melt in your cadence wild and clear.
With freedom and hope
I range and grope,
35

Till I find new stops in your earthly scope.

The pleading strain
Of pathos and pain,
The diminished chord and the lost refrain;
The piercing sigh,

40

The joyous cry,
The sense of what shall be bye and bye;

The grief untold
Out of man's heart old,
Which endures that another may still be bold;

45

The wiser will
That foregoes self-will
And aspires to truth beyond trammel or ill;

Ambition unsure,
And the splendid lure

50

Of whim in his harlequin vestiture;
And the reach of sound
Into thought's profound;
All these I add to your power earth-bound;

But most, the awe

55
That perceives where law
Is revealed at last without fault or flaw,—
The touch of mind
That would search and find
The measure of beauty, the purpose of kind.
60

So with the fire
Of man's desire
Your notes shall outreach the mountain choir.
Brook, breeze, and bird
Shall hear the Word,
65

And know 'tis their master they have heard.

And the lowly reed,
Whose only need
Was to sigh with the wind in the river weed,
Shall be heard as far

70

As from star to star,
Where Algol answers to Algebar.

For the soul must trace
Her wondrous race
By a seventh sense on the charts of space,

75

Till she come at last,
Through the vague and vast,
To her own heart's haven fixed and fast.

O pipes of Pan,
Whose music ran

80

Through the world ere ever my age began,
When I set my lip
To your woodland lip,
I pray some draft of your virtue slip

From each mellow throat,

85
As note by note,
A learner, I try for the secret rote,—
The rhythm and theme
That shall blend man's dream
Of perfection with nature's imperfect scheme!
90

Blow low, blow high,
Your haunting cry
For me, a wayfarer passing by;
Blow soft or keen,
I shall listen and lean
95

To catch what your whispered messages mean.

I shall hear, and heed
The voice of the reed,
And be glad of my kinfolk's word, indeed.
I shall hearken and heart

100

Your untroubled cheer
From the earth's deep heart, serene and clear.

Blow cold and shrill,
As the wind from the hill,
I yet shall follow to learn your will;
Blow soft and warm,

105

As an April storm,
I shall listen and feel my soul take form.

Blow glad and strong,
As the grosbeak's song,
And I mount with you over hurt and wrong;

110

Blow little and thin,
As the cricket's din;
But my door is wide, and I bid them in.

Blow, blow till there be
Inbreathed in me

115
Tinge of the loam and tang of the sea,—
A vagrom man,
Favoured of Pan,
Made out of ardour and sinew and tan,

With the seeing eye

120
For meadow and sky,
The want only beauty can satisfy,
And the wandering will,
The questing will,
The inquisitive, glad, unanxious will,
125

That must up and away
On the brave essay
Of the fair and far through the long sweet day,—
Of the fine and true,
The wondrous and new,
130

All the warm radiant bright world through.

Blow me the tune
Of the ripe red moon,
I shall sleep like a child by the roadside soon;
And the tune of the sun;

135

When our piping is done,
Lo, others shall finish what we have begun.

For the spell we cast
Shall prevail at last,—
When fault is forgotten and failure past,—

140

Prevail and restore
To earth once more
The lost enchantment, the wonder-lore.

And I must attain
To the road again,

145

With the wandering dust and the wandering rain,—
A sojourner too
My way pursue,
Who am spirit and substance, even as you.

Then give me the slow

150
Large will to grow,
As your fellows down by the brookside grow.
Ah, blow, and breed
In my manhood's need
The long sweet patience of flower and seed!
155

O pipes of Pan,
Make me a man,
As only your earthly music can;
And create in me
From your melody
160
The strength of the hills and the strength of the sea!