From the Book of Myths

by Bliss Carman




Who hath done this thing? What wonder is this that lies
On the green earth so still under purple skies,
Like a hyacinth shaft the careless mower has cut
                  And thought of no more?

Who hath wrought this pitiful wrong on the lovely earth?


What ruthless hand could ruin that harmless mirth?
O heart of things, what undoing is here, never now
                  To be mended more!

No more, O beautiful boy, shall thy fleet feet stray
Through the cool beech wood on the shadowy mountain way,


Nor halt by the well at noon, nor trample the flowers
                  On the forest floor.

Thy beautiful light-seeing gold-green eyes, so glad
When day came over the hill, so wondrous sad
When the burning sun went slowly under the sea,


                  Shall look no more.

Thy nimble fingers that plucked the fruit from the bough,
Or fondled the nymph's bright hair and filleted brow,
Or played the wild mellow pipe of thy father Pan,
                  Shall play no more.


Thy sensitive ears that knew all the speech of the wood,
Every call of the birds and the creatures, and understood
What the wind to the water said, what the river replied,
                  Shall hear no more.

Thy scarlet and lovely mouth which the dryads knew,


Dear whimsical ardent mouth that love spoke through,
For all the kisses of life that it took and gave,
                  Shall say no more.

Who hath trammelled those feet that never again shall rove?
Who hath bound these hands that never again shall move?


Who hath quenched the lamp in those eyes that never again
                  Shall be lighted more?

Who hath stopped those ears from our heartbroken words forever?
Who hath sealed that wonderful mouth with its secret forever?
Who hath touched this innocent being with pitiless death,


                  And he is no more?

He was fair as a mortal and spiritual as a flower;
He knew no hate, but was happy within the hour.
The Gods had given him beauty and freedom and joy,
Could they give no more?


Is all their wisdom and power so fond a thing?
Must he perish, nor ever return with returning Spring,
But be left like a dead-ripe fruit on the ground for a stranger
                  To find and deplore?

They have given to mortal man the immortal scope,


The perilous chance, unrest and remembrance and hope,
That imperfection may come to perfection still
                  By some fabled shore.

Did they give this being, this marvellous work of their hands,
No breath of the greater life with its grief and demands?


Do beauty and love without bitter knowledge attain
                  This and no more?

The wind may whisper to him, he will heed no more;
The leaves may murmur and lisp, he will laugh no more;
The oreads weep and be heavy at heart for him,


                  He will care no more.

The reverberant thrushes may peal from the hemlock glooms,
The summer clouds be woven on azure looms;
He is done with all lovely things of earth forever
                  And ever more.