Ganymede to His Eagle
|Ganymede to His Eagle
|Author's note: Composed on the height called the Eagle's Nest, Oregon, Rock River, July 4th, 1843.|
Upon the rocky mountain stood the boy,
A goblet of pure water in his hand,
His face and form spoke him one made for joy,
A willing servant to sweet love's command,
But a strange pain was written on his brow,
And thrilled throughout his silver accents now—
"My bird," he cries, "my destined brother friend,
O whither fleets to-day thy wayward flight?
Hast thou forgotten that I here attend,
From the full noon until this sad twilight?
A hundred times, at least, from the clear spring,
Since the full noon o'er hill and valley glowed,
I've filled the vase which our Olympian king
Upon my care for thy sole use bestowed;
That at the moment when thou should'st descend,
A pure refreshment might thy thirst attend.
Hast thou forgotten earth, forgotten me,
Thy fellow bondsman in a royal cause,
Who, from the sadness of infinity,
Only with thee can know that peaceful pause
In which we catch the flowing strain of love,
Which binds our dim fates to the throne of Jove?
Before I saw thee, I was like the May,
Longing for summer that must mar its bloom,
Or like the morning star that calls the day,
Whose glories to its promise are the tomb;
And as the eager fountain rises higher
To throw itself more strongly back to earth,
Still, as more sweet and full rose my desire,
More fondly it reverted to its birth,
For, what the rosebud seeks tells not the rose,
The meaning foretold by the boy the man cannot disclose.
I was all Spring, for in my being dwelt
Eternal youth, where flowers are the fruit,
Full feeling was the thought of what was felt,
Its music was the meaning of the lute;
But heaven and earth such life will still deny,
For earth, divorced from heaven, still asks the question Why?
Upon the highest mountains my young feet
Ached, that no pinions from their lightness grew,
My starlike eyes the stars would fondly greet,
Yet win no greeting from the circling blue;
Fair, self-subsistent each in its own sphere,
They had no care that there was none for me;
Alike to them that I was far or near,
Alike to them, time and eternity.
But, from the violet of lower air,
Sometimes an answer to my wishing came,
Those lightning births my nature seemed to share,
They told the secrets of its fiery frame,
The sudden messengers of hate and love,
The thunderbolts that arm the hand of Jove,
And strike sometimes the sacred spire, and strike the sacred grove.
Come in a moment, in a moment gone,
They answered me, then left me still more lone,
They told me that the thought which ruled the world,
As yet no sail upon its course had furled,
That the creation was but just begun,
New leaves still leaving from the primal one,
But spoke not of the goal to which my rapid wheels would run.
Still, still my eyes, though tearfully, I strained
To the far future which my heart contained,
And no dull doubt my proper hope profaned.
At last, O bliss, thy living form I spied,
Then a mere speck upon a distant sky,
Yet my keen glance discerned its noble pride,
And the full answer of that sun-filled eye;
I knew it was the wing that must upbear
My earthlier form into the realms of air.
Thou knowest how we gained that beauteous height,
Where dwells the monarch of the sons of light,
Thou knowest he declared us two to be
The chosen servants of his ministry,
Thou as his messenger, a sacred sign
Of conquest, or with omen more benign,
To give its due weight to the righteous cause,
To express the verdict of Olympian laws.
And I to wait upon the lonely spring,
Which slakes the thirst of bards to whom 'tis given
The destined dues of hopes divine to sing,
And weave the needed chain to bind to heaven.
Only from such could be obtained a draught
For him who in his early home from Jove's own cup has quaffed.
To wait, to wait, but not to wait too long,
Till heavy grows the burthen of a song;
O bird! too long hast thou been gone to-day,
My feet are weary of their frequent way,
The spell that opes the spring my tongue no more can say.
If soon thou com'st not, night will fall around,
My head with a sad slumber will be bound,
And the pure draught be spilt upon the ground.
Remember that I am not yet divine,
Long years of service to the fatal Nine
Are yet to make a Delphian vigor mine.
O, make them not too hard, thou bird of Jove,
Answer the stripling's hope, confirm his love,
Receive the service in which he delights,
And bear him often to the serene heights,
Where hands that were so prompt in serving thee,
Shall be allowed the highest ministry,
And Rapture live with bright Fidelity.
This work published before January 1, 1923 is in the public domain worldwide because the author died at least 100 years ago.