For a year and a half, I have been trying to complete a version of the grand Hymn to Hermes, but it is still only half done. Here is the smaller piece for Hermes’ son.
My comments on the figure of Pan unexpectedly expanded as I wrote. In fact my essay on him remains a work in progress, as Pan’s implications continue to offer revealing bypaths. The piece is still not unified, and perhaps will never be, but it has already grown large enough that I have decided to leave it to be posted in June.
Now tell, o muse, of Hermes’ dear son Pan,
who loves all noise, goat-footed and two-horned.
Through wooded fields he roams with dancing nymphs;
they tread on high to goatless crests of stone.
They call on Pan, the shepherd’s bright-haired god, 5
all wild and mussed. He rules each snowy peak,
and every mountain top and rocky height.
He dances back and forth through thickest brush.
Sometimes he’s drawn to gentle streams, at times
he wanders through the rocky crags and goes 10
to highest peaks from which he watches flocks.
Through great pale mountains he will often dash.
Passing rough-hewn crags, he kills his prey,
that sharp-eyed god. Then at evening he ceases his chase,
returns with reed pipe song so wild and free, 15
so sweet in melody that bird could sing
no finer, who in blossoming spring leaves
pours forth the sweetest and the saddest song.
with him then clear-singing mountain nymphs
who dance with agile feet by deep-dark springs 20
and sing while Echo keens from mountain height.
The god is here, then there, among the choirs.
He wears lynx pelt and dances fast and free,
exulting in his heart in sweetest song,
in gentle fields where crocus, hyacinth, 25
and grass all mix and grow and blossom sweet.
They sing of gods and of Olympos height,
especially of Hermes of good luck
of how he is the herald for the gods,
and how to Arcady of springs and flocks 30
he came. Mount Kyllene is his sacred spot.
Where, though a god, he tends rough-coated flocks
for moist desire came on him there and grew
to mix in love with fair-haired Dryops’ maid.
Good marriage there he made with mortal wife 35
who bore a son, a marvel from his birth,
with goat feet, horns, so loud with sweetest laugh!
The nurse sprang up, afraid, and left the child,
in fear at sight of his rough face and beard.
At once luck-bringing Hermes took him up, 40
and held him, feeling joy fill up his heart,
then quickly sped to the immortals’ seat.
The child, all wrapped in skins of mountain hares,
was set by Zeus and the other gods.
When Hermes showed his son to all of them, 45
they all rejoiced but Dionysos most.
They called him Pan because he pleased them all.
And so, rejoice, my king! May my song please!
I call you up to mind and others, too.