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

So saying, Hermes roused the oxen vast;
O’er shadowy mountain and resounding dell,
And flower-paven plains, great Hermes passed; 120
Till the black night divine, which favouring fell
Around his steps, grew gray, and morning fast
Wakened the world to work, and from her cell
Sea-strewn, the Pallantean Moon sublime
Into her watch-tower just began to climb. 125

Now to Alpheus he had driven all
The broad-foreheaded oxen of the Sun;
They came unwearied to the lofty stall
And to the water-troughs which ever run
Through the fresh fields–and when with rushgrass tall, 130
Lotus and all sweet herbage, every one
Had pastured been, the great God made them move
Towards the stall in a collected drove.

A mighty pile of wood the God then heaped,
And having soon conceived the mystery 135
Of fire, from two smooth laurel branches stripped
The bark, and rubbed them in his palms;–on high
Suddenly forth the burning vapour leaped
And the divine child saw delightedly.–
Mercury first found out for human weal 140
Tinder-box, matches, fire-irons, flint and steel.

And fine dry logs and roots innumerous
He gathered in a delve upon the ground–
And kindled them–and instantaneous
The strength of the fierce flame was breathed around: 145
And whilst the might of glorious Vulcan thus
Wrapped the great pile with glare and roaring sound,
Hermes dragged forth two heifers, lowing loud,
Close to the fire–such might was in the God.

And on the earth upon their backs he threw 150
The panting beasts, and rolled them o’er and o’er,
And bored their lives out. Without more ado
He cut up fat and flesh, and down before
The fire, on spits of wood he placed the two,
Toasting their flesh and ribs, and all the gore 155
Pursed in the bowels; and while this was done
He stretched their hides over a craggy stone.

We mortals let an ox grow old, and then
Cut it up after long consideration,–
But joyous-minded Hermes from the glen 160
Drew the fat spoils to the more open station
Of a flat smooth space, and portioned them; and when
He had by lot assigned to each a ration
Of the twelve Gods, his mind became aware
Of all the joys which in religion are. 165

For the sweet savour of the roasted meat
Tempted him though immortal. Natheless
He checked his haughty will and did not eat,
Though what it cost him words can scarce express,
And every wish to put such morsels sweet 170
Down his most sacred throat, he did repress;
But soon within the lofty portalled stall
He placed the fat and flesh and bones and all.

And every trace of the fresh butchery
And cooking, the God soon made disappear, 175
As if it all had vanished through the sky;
He burned the hoofs and horns and head and hair,–
The insatiate fire devoured them hungrily;–
And when he saw that everything was clear,
He quenched the coal, and trampled the black dust, 180
And in the stream his bloody sandals tossed.