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Are pastured in the flowering unmown meadows,
And safely stalled in a remote abodeThe archer Argicide, elate and proud, Drove fifty from the herd, lowing aloud.
He drove them wandering o'er the sandy way,
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
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,
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 : “ Halloo! Old fellow with the crooked shoulder! You grub those stumps ? Before they will bear
wine Methinks even you must grow
little older :
Attend, I pray, to this advice of mine,
As you would’scape what might appall a bolderSeeing, see not—and hearing, hear not-andIf you have understanding—understand.”
So saying, Hermes roused the oxen vast;
O’er shadowy mountain and resounding dell, And flower-paven plains, great Hermes past;
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.
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 rush
Lotus and all sweet herbage, every one Had pastured been, the Great God made them
Towards the stall in a collected drove.
A mighty pile of wood the God then heaped,
And having soon conceived the mystery
Of fire, from two smooth laurel branches stript The bark, and rubbed them in his palms,—on
high Suddenly forth the burning vapour leapt,
And the divine child saw delightedlyMercury first found out for human weal Tinder-box, matches, fire-irons, flint, and steel.
And fine dry logs and roots innumerous
He gathered in a delve upon the groundAnd kindled them and instantaneous The strength of the fierce flame was breathed
around: And whilst the might of glorious Vulcan thus Wrapt the great pile with glare and roaring
sound, Hermes dragged forth two hiefers, lowing loud, Close to the fire—such might was in the God.
And on the earth upon their backs he threw
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 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
after long consideration,But joyous-minded Hermes from the glen Drew the fat spoils to the more open
station Of a flat smooth space, and portioned them; and
For the sweet savour of the roasted meat
Tempted him, though immortal. Nathelesse He checked his haughty will and did not eat,
Though whatit cost him words can scarce express, And
every wish to put such morsels sweet 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, As if it all had vanished through the sky; [hair,
He burned the hoofs and horns and head and The insatiate fire devoured them hungrily ;
And when he saw that every thing was clear, He quenched the coals and trampled the black dust, And in the stream his bloody sandals tossed.
All night he worked in the serene moonshine-
But when the light of day was spread abroad He sought his natal mountain-peaks divine.
On his long wandering, neither man nor god Had met him, since he killed Apollo's kine,
Nor house-dog had barked at him on his road; Now he obliquely through the key-hole passed, Like
a thin mist, or an autumnal blast.
Right through the temple of the spacious cave
He went with soft light feet—as if his tread Fell not on earth ; no sound their falling gave ;
Then to his cradle he crept quick, and spread The swaddling-clothes about him ; and the knave
Lay playing with the covering of the bed, With his left hand about his knees—the right Held his beloved tortoise-lyre tight.
There he lay innocent as a new-born child,
As gossips say; but, though he was a god, The goddess, his fair mother, unbeguiled
Knew all that he had done, being abroad ; “ Whence come you, and from what adventure
wild, You cunning rogue, and where have you abode All the long night, clothed in your impudence ? What have you done since you departed hence ?