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Gnatho
by [?]


Gnatho, Satyr, homing at dusk,
Trotting home like a tired dog,
By mountain slopes ‘twixt the junipers
And flamed oleanders near the sea,
Found a girl-child asleep in a fleece,
Frail as wax, golden and rose;
Whereat at first he skipt aside
And stayed him, nosing and peering, whereto
Next he crept, softly breathing,
Blinking his fear. None was there
To guard; the sun had dipt in the sea,
Faint fire empurpled the flow
Of heaving water; no speck, no hint
Of oar or wing on the main, on the deep
Sky, empty as a great shell,
Fainting in its own glory. This thing,
This rare breath, this miracle–
Alone with him in the world! His
To wonder, fall to, with craning eyes
Fearfully daring; next, since it moved not,
Stooping, to handle, to stroke, to peer upon
Closely, nosing its tender length,
Doglike snuffing–at last to kiss
In reverence wonderful, lightlier far
Than thistledown falls, brushing the Earth.
But the child awoke and, watching him, cried not,
Cruddled visage, choppy hands,
Blinking eyes, red-litten, astare,
Horns and feet–nay, crowed and strained
To reach this wonder.
As one a glass
Light as foam, hued like the foam,
A breath-bubble of fire, will carry,
He in arms lifted his freight,
Looking wonderfully upon it
With scarce a breath, and humbleness
To be so brute ebbed to the flood
Of pride in his new assured worth–
Trusted so, who could be vile?

So to his cave in the wood he bore her,
Fleeting swift as a fear thro’ the dark trees.

There in the silence of tall trees,
Under the soaring shafts,
Far beneath the canopied leafage,
In the forest whisper, the thick silences;
Or on the wastes
Of sheltered mountains where the spires
Of solemn cypress frame the descent
Upon the blue, and open to sea–
Here grew Ianthe maiden slim
With none to spy but this gnarled man-brute;
Most fair, most hid, like a wood-flower
Slim for lack of light; so she grew
In flowering line of limb
And flower of face, retired and shy,
Urged by the bland air; unknown,
Lonely and lovely, husbanding
Her great possessions–hers now,
Another’s when he cared to claim them.
For thus went life: to lead the herds
Of pricking deer she saw the great stags
Battle in empty glades, then mate;
Thus on the mountains chose the bears,
And in the woods she heard the wolves
Anguishing in their loves
Thro’ the dense nights, far in the forest.
And so collected went she, and sure
Her time would come and with it her master.

But Gnatho watcht her under his brows
When she lay heedless, spilling beauty–
How ever lovelier, suppler, sleeker,
How more desirable, how near;
How rightly his, how surely his–
Then gnaw’d his cheek and turn’d his head.

For unsuspect, some dim forbidding
Rose within him and knockt at his heart
And said, Not thine, but for reverence.
And some wild horror desperate drove him,
Suing a pardon from unknown Gods
For untold trespass, to seek the sea,
Upon whose shore, to whose cool breathing
He’d stretch his arms, broken with strife
Of self and self; and all that water
Steadfast lapt and surged. Came tears
To furrow his cheeks, came strength to return
To her, and bear with longer breath
Her sweet familiarities, blind
Obedience to nascent blind desire–
Till again he lookt and burn’d again.