Hymn of Pan
Percy Bysshe Shelley, Posthumous Poems, ed. Mary Shelley (1824). Cf. Posthumous Poems of Shelley. Mary Shelley's Fair Copy Book, Bodleian MS. Shelley Adds. d. 9, Collated with the Holographs and the Printed Texts, ed. Irving Massey (Montreal: McGill-Queens University Press, 1969). PR 5403 M27 ROBA.
2 We come, we come;
3From the river-girt islands,
4 Where loud waves are dumb
6The wind in the reeds and the rushes,
7 The bees on the bells of thyme,
8The birds on the myrtle bushes,
9 The cicale above in the lime,
10And the lizards below in the grass,
11Were as silent as ever old Tmolus was,
12 Listening my sweet pipings.
14 And all dark Tempe lay
15In Pelion's shadow, outgrowing
16 The light of the dying day,
17 Speeded by my sweet pipings.
19 And the Nymphs of the woods and the waves,
20To the edge of the moist river-lawns,
21 And the brink of the dewy caves,
22And all that did then attend and follow,
23Were silent with love, as you now, Apollo,
24 With envy of my sweet pipings.
25I sang of the dancing stars,
26 I sang of the daedal Earth,
27And of Heaven, and the giant wars,
28 And Love, and Death, and Birth--
29 And then I chang'd my pipings,
30Singing how down the vale of Maenalus
32Gods and men, we are all deluded thus!
34All wept, as I think both ye now would,
35If envy or age had not frozen your blood,
36 At the sorrow of my sweet pipings.
1] It and the Hymn of Apollo were written for a scene in Mary Shelley's verse-drama Midas where Apollo and Pan sing competing songs before old Tmolus as judge. Tmolus awards the victory to Apollo, but Midas, who has secretly overheard the competition, prefers Pan. Back to Line
5] Listening my sweet pipings. Mrs. Shelley's published version inserts "to," but a fair copy among Shelley's MSS. insists on a transitive use of "listening" in both lines. Back to Line
13] Peneus, Tempe, Pelion: a river in Thessaly, a valley through which it flows, and a neighbouring mountain. Back to Line
18] Minor pastoral deities of forest and river. Back to Line
31] Pan pursued the nymph Syrinx to a river bank, but when he tried to embrace her found himself clasping reeds. From these he made the pipes of Pan. The story is told in Ovid's Metamorphoses. Back to Line
33] Both ye: Tmolus and Apollo. Back to Line
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RPO poem Editors:
M. T. Wilson