Pan the Fallen

Original Text: 
William Wilfred Campbell, The Dread Voyage: Poems (Toronto: William Briggs, 1893), pp. 91-94. B-10 5840 Fisher Library.
2     With pipes and goatish hoof;
3He wandered in a grotesque shape,
4     And no one stood aloof.
5For the children crowded round him,
6     The wives and greybeards, too,
7To crack their jokes and have their mirth,
8     And see what Pan would do.
9The Pan he was they knew him,
10     Part man, but mostly beast,
11Who drank, and lied, and snatched what bones
12     Men threw him from their feast;
13Who seemed in sin so merry,
14     So careless in his woe,
15That men despised, scarce pitied him,
16     And still would have it so.
17He swelled his pipes and thrilled them,
18     And drew the silent tear;
19He made the gravest clack with mirth
20     By his sardonic leer.
21He blew his pipes full sweetly
22     At their amused demands,
23And caught the scornful, earth-flung pence
24     That fell from careless hands.
25He saw the mob's derision,
26     And took it kindly, too,
27And when an epithet was flung,
28     A coarser back he threw;
29But under all the masking
30     Of a brute, unseemly part,
31I looked, and saw a wounded soul,
32     And a god-like, breaking heart.
33And back of the elfin music,
34     The burlesque, clownish play,
35I knew a wail that the weird pipes made,
36     A look that was far away,-
37A gaze into some far heaven
38     Whence a soul had fallen down;
39But the mob only saw the grotesque beast
40     And the antics of the clown.
41For scant-flung pence he paid them
42     With mirth and elfin play,
43Till, tired for a time of his antics queer,
44     They passed and went their way;
45Then there in the empty market
46     He ate his scanty crust,
47And, tired face turned to heaven, down
48     He laid him in the dust.
49And over his wild, strange features
50     A softer light there fell,
51And on his worn, earth-driven heart
52     A peace ineffable.
53And the moon rose over the market,
54     But Pan the beast was dead;
55While Pan the god lay silent there,
56     With his strange, distorted head.
57And the people, when they found him,
58     Stood still with awesome fear.
59No more they saw the beast's rude hoof,
60     The furtive, clownish leer;
61But the lightest in that audience
62     Went silent from the place,
63For they knew the look of a god released
64     That shone from his dead face.


1] Pan is the Greek pastoral god of the (pan)pipes. Back to Line
Publication Start Year: 
Publication Notes: 
Published in Atlantic Monthly.
RPO poem Editors: 
Ian Lancashire
RPO Edition: 
RPO 1998.