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Hymn To Mercury. Translated From The Greek Of Homer
by [?]


And through the tortoise’s hard stony skin
At proper distances small holes he made,
And fastened the cut stems of reeds within,
And with a piece of leather overlaid 60
The open space and fixed the cubits in,
Fitting the bridge to both, and stretched o’er all
Symphonious cords of sheep-gut rhythmical.

When he had wrought the lovely instrument,
He tried the chords, and made division meet, 65
Preluding with the plectrum, and there went
Up from beneath his hand a tumult sweet
Of mighty sounds, and from his lips he sent
A strain of unpremeditated wit
Joyous and wild and wanton–such you may 70
Hear among revellers on a holiday.

He sung how Jove and May of the bright sandal
Dallied in love not quite legitimate;
And his own birth, still scoffing at the scandal,
And naming his own name, did celebrate; 75
His mother’s cave and servant maids he planned all
In plastic verse, her household stuff and state,
Perennial pot, trippet, and brazen pan,–
But singing, he conceived another plan.


Seized with a sudden fancy for fresh meat, 80
He in his sacred crib deposited
The hollow lyre, and from the cavern sweet
Rushed with great leaps up to the mountain’s head,
Revolving in his mind some subtle feat
Of thievish craft, such as a swindler might 85
Devise in the lone season of dun night.

Lo! the great Sun under the ocean’s bed has
Driven steeds and chariot–the child meanwhile strode
O’er the Pierian mountains clothed in shadows,
Where the immortal oxen of the God 90
Are pastured in the flowering unmown meadows,
And safely stalled in a remote abode.–
The archer Argicide, elate and proud,
Drove fifty from the herd, lowing aloud.

He drove them wandering o’er the sandy way, 95
But, being ever mindful of his craft,
Backward and forward drove he them astray,
So that the tracks which seemed before, were aft;
His sandals then he threw to the ocean spray,
And for each foot he wrought a kind of raft 100
Of tamarisk, and tamarisk-like sprigs,
And bound them in a lump with withy twigs.

And on his feet he tied these sandals light,
The trail of whose wide leaves might not betray
His track; and then, a self-sufficing wight, 105
Like a man hastening on some distant way,
He from Pieria’s mountain bent his flight;
But an old man perceived the infant pass
Down green Onchestus heaped like beds with grass.

The old man stood dressing his sunny vine: 110
‘Halloo! old fellow with the crooked shoulder!
You grub those stumps? before they will bear wine
Methinks even you must grow a little older:
Attend, I pray, to this advice of mine,
As you would ‘scape what might appal a bolder– 115
Seeing, see not–and hearing, hear not–and–
If you have understanding–understand.’