Hamilton Wright Mabie.

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" The Goddess moving across the fields "










W I L L- H L O W

" The Goddess moving across the fields "... Frontispiece

The boy raised the pipes to his lips " . . Facing page 40

The Lyre of Apollo

Without, the stillness of the winter night " .



THE tenderest greeri w as ;
on the foliage, the whitest
clouds were in the sky,
and the showers were so sudden
that the birds were hardly dry
of one wetting before there came
another. These swift dashes of
rain seemed to fall out of the clear
blue, so mysteriously did the light
clouds dissolve into the depths of
heaven after every rush of pattering
drops in the woods. It was the
first spring day. The season had
come shyly up from the south, as
if half afraid to trust its sensitive
growths to the harsh airs and rough


caresses of the northern winds.
And sky and woods wore their
happiest smiles for the laggard
.season, and were bent on the
gayest revels, now that the guest
had come.

The last traces of the snow had
hardly vanished and there were
damp, cool places in the shadow
of rocks, where winter still waited
to be driven out by those search
ing fingers of light which leave
no hidden leaf or buried root un
touched. The woods that morn
ing were like an empty stage upon
which the curtain has been rolled
up. There were no moving figures,
but there were murmurs of sound,
mysterious noises, stirrings of things
out of sight, which made one aware

that the play was about to begin.
There were signs of impatience in
the great, silent theatre, as if the
first lines had been already delayed
too long. The sky and the earth
were getting more intimate every
hour ; secret forces, mysterious in
fluences, were moving in the depths
of air, and over the surface of the
world there played a subtle and
elusive softness, the first faint
breath of summer, the softest sigh
of returning life.

Last year s leaves lay dull red in
the hollow between the low hills,
and the black trunks of oaks made
the light, slender clusters of white
birches stand out with bright dis
tinctness on the slopes. The green
on the birches was so delicate that,

[2] [17]



looking from a little distance, it
seemed more like a shading than
a colour ; but the clean blue of
the sky, blurred at times by slowly
passing clouds dark with rain, or
of such whiteness that they seemed
to be erasing every trace of the
momentary blackness, confirmed
the faint evidence that spring
had come.





SO, at least, thought the Faun,
sitting at ease with his back
against an oak, his pipe in his
hand and his eye wandering curi
ously through the open spaces of
the wood. So entirely at home
was he that solitude or society
was alike to him, and the speech of
men or of animals equally plain.
There were hints of wildness about
him ; for he was brother to the folk
in fur and feather that lived in the
w r ood, although the light in his eye
and the pipe in his hand showed
that he had travelled far from the
old instincts without having lost
them. There were hints of human
fellowship in his air of seeing the

[ 21]

world as well as being a part of
it ; although the absence of all
thought about himself, all ques
tioning of the sky and earth, made
one aware that if he held converse
with men he talked also with the
creatures that slept in the fields
and hid in the woods.

He was stretched at ease in a
world about which he had never
taken thought, being born into it
after the manner of the creatures
that live in free and joyous use of
the things of Nature without any
thought of Nature herself. In him,
however, the instinctive joy in life
had become articulate ; he spake
for the strange and wild instincts
of his kind, although he could not
speak of them. In his careless,



unconscious, unthinking life all the
instincts and appetites and activi
ties of the living things that were
fed and housed by Nature played
freely, joyfully, without conscious
ness. He had, however, the gift
of speech ; and the a silent, secretive,
sensuous world became articulate
on his lips and he was the inter
preter of that world to men. Idle,
smiling, content alike with the sun
and the cloud, the Faun was so
much a part of the streaming life
about him that he did not see its
beauty or feel its mystery ; he was
without apprehension or curiosity ;
he had no tasks or duties ; there
was no law for him save obedience
to his own nature, which was sim
ple, sensuous, without thought or

care or obligation. When he put
his pipes to his lips and blew a few
clear notes there were no echoes of
human emotion or experience in
them ; they might have rained down
from the clouds with the song of
the skylark, which has the quality
of the solitude of the upper air in
it, or they might have been borne
gently in from a distance, like the
tones of the waterfall over the hill.
And yet there was something in
them which no bird or animal nor
any stirring of water or air could
have put there ; a sense of the
mounting life of the world, growing
and straining and rushing on to
fruition; the stir and murmur and
hum of bird and branch and bee;
the simple animal joy of sharing

the gift of life with all creatures,
without a hint of its uses, its mean
ing, its end, it was the song of life
when it knows that it is life and
all the instincts, passions, and de
sires awake and fulfil themselves.




^HESE notes, clear, soli
tary, penetrating, came
like an invitation to the
boy who had entered the wood with
out thought or care or desire, save
to feel the warmth of the sun and
to take what the day offered him.
He had never heard such sounds
before, but they seemed so much
a part of the place and the time
that he accepted them as if they
were human speech. The Faun
himself, visible now through the
light growth of the birch trees,
brought no surprise ; he, too, be
longed to the hour and the scene.
Instead of shyness a sense of fel
lowship grew on the boy as he came

nearer the pipe and the strange fig
ure which held it. The Faun did
not cease his fitful, vagrant music ;
he, too, seemed to apcept the boy
as of a piece with the season.

There was a deeper kinship be
tween the two than appeared at
the moment. Each had a past
strangely different from the other ;
the roots of the boy s nature reach
ing back through long generations
of thinking, questioning, responsible
creatures like himself; the roots of
the Faun s nature deep in the un
recorded experience of thousands
of generations of living things that
know all the ways of the wood and
field and stream and air, but had
never thought, questioned or had
a duty laid upon them. The Faun


had climbed to the point where all
this vast, confused, instinctive life
had become conscious that it lived ;
the boy had gone far on into a
world in which instinct had be
come intelligence, passion weakness
or power, appetite and desire mas
ter or servant. On that spring
morning, however, they stood on
the same plane of being; for the
Faun was happy in the sense of
life and the boy was just awaken
ing to the desire of the eye and
the joy of the muscles and the
bliss of the perfect body in the
world which plays upon it as
the wind on the harp. He did
not know what stirred within him,
but he felt as if he had come to
his own at last.



i/^X v:: ;

The notes of the pipe floated
through the wood and were sent
back in echoes from the hillside,
with bird-notes intermingled, and
the soft murmurs of tree tops gently
swayed, and the faint tones of water
falling from rock to rock hidden by
a press of ferns and softened by
mosses. The boy threw himself
at the Faun s feet and listened ;
and as he listened the whole world
seemed to come to life about him
and move together in sheer delight
in the cherishing of the sun and the
caressing of the clouds. The woods
were full of nesting birds ; through
the trees delicate patterings of feet
were heard, as if the creatures who
lived in the coverts and hidden
places were abroad without fear.




The boy seemed to hear a low,
far, continuous murmur as of grow
ing things in the ground shyly
reaching slender tendrils up for
the touch of the sun which was
to lift them out of the darkness
of birth into the bright mystery
of life, as of tiny leaves slowly
unfolding on innumerable branches.
The whole world seemed to be
moving in a vast beginning of
things ; creeping, shining, expand
ing, climbing in universal warmth
and light. Nothing seemed com
plete, everything was prophetic ;
the tide was beginning to ripple
in from the fathomless deeps of
being ; its ultimate sweep and vol
ume, foaming in the vast channels
through the mountains and tossing

[ 3 ] [ 33 ]

its crested waves to the summits,
was still far off in the summer to
which all things moved, but of
which there was neither thought
nor care on that first day of

It was the stir of life which the
boy heard, and the frank, free, un
questioning joy in it which made
riot in the mind of the Faun ; the
mystery and wonder of it were far
from the thought of these two
creatures of the season, the Faun
who had come up the long ascent
of animal life, and the boy who
stood for a moment with the Faun
at the place where joy in the sense
of life is at the full. The ways of
these two creatures met for one
hour that morning in early April,


they were comrades in a world
given over to lusty strength and
mounting gladness in tree and
flower and living creature.



the merry piping of the
Faun the boy laughed
gleefully ; here was the
wild playmate who could take him
deeper into the woods than he had
ever ventured and show him the
shy creatures wKo were always
eluding his eager search. And
the Faun, who was nearer his
brothers of the wood than his
brothers of the thatched roof and
the vine trained against the wall,
saw in the boy a fellow of his own
mind ; to whom the wind was a
challenge to kindred fleetness and
the notes of the birds floating
down the mountain side invitations
to adventure and action.
[ 39 ]


The boy might have been twelve
or thirteen ; the Faun seemed to
be of no age ; he had never thought
and time had left no trace on his
brow or in his eye ; he might have
been born with Nature, or he might
have come with the spring. To-day
the boy was his fellow ; next spring
he would be so far away from him
that the sounds of the pipes might
never reach him again. Of this
gulf to widen between them the
Faun knew nothing ; it was the
kinship of boy with boy that
prompted him to hold out the
pipes to the sensitive hand which
showed the vast divergence of his
tory between the two. The boy
raised the pipes to his lips and
blew loudly through the rude joint-


The boy raised the pipes to his lips "

v : > : *J

ure of reeds, and then hung on
the far- travelling sounds which he
had set loose. There was a strange
compelling power in them as they
seemed to penetrate further and
further into the wood, and seizing
the hand of the Faun the two ran
together up the wooded hill and
over its crest into a world of which
the boy had only dreamed before.

He had seen the world a thou
sand times before, but now it flowed
in upon him through all the chan
nels of his senses ; a rushing, sing
ing, tumultuous tide swept him
along, and with the jubilant stream
the joy of life flooded his mind and
heart. A wild exultation seized
him, swept him out of himself,
and carried him on with the power



and sweep of a resistless torrent.
He ran, shouted, laughed as if some
hidden and inarticulate force within
him had suddenly broken bounds.
He was fellow with the bird that
sang on the bough and comrade
with the shy creatures who had
never suffered his approach before.
If he had known what was hap
pening within him he would have
understood the ancient frenzy of
the Bacchic worshippers ; the sur
render to the spell of the life of the
world, rising out of deep springs
in the heart of things, calling with
the potency of ancient witcheries to
his instincts, taking possession of
his quickening senses, and mount
ing with intoxicating glow to his





pipe of the Faun drew
his feet far into the secret
places of the woods, and
with every step he seemed to be
breaking some imprisonment, find
ing some new liberty. The Faun
could have told him much of that
ancient world which was old before
man began to look, to wonder, to
comprehend ; but the wild music
of those few notes, so inarticulate
but so full of the unspoken life of
hidden and fugitive things, spoke
to his senses as no words of human
speech could have spoken. They
were full of echoes of a dateless
past, of which no memory remained
save that which was deposited in


instinct and habit ; the earliest and
oldest form of memory. He was
recovering the lost possession of his
race ; the primitive experiences that
lay behind its childhood and made
a deep, rich, warm soil for its
ancient divinations and for those
dreams of an older world which
haunt it and are always luring its
poets to the secret homes of that
beauty which embosoms the youth
of men, and fills them with infinite
longing and regret when spring
comes flooding up the shores of
being after the long silence and

In that far-off world the Faun
still lived, and when he blew on
the reeds its echoes set the very
heart of the boy vibrating with a


joy whose sources were far beyond
his ken. Through the soft splen
dour of the spring day, so tender
with the fertility of immemorial
years, so overflowing with the glad
ness of the births that were to be,
the boy ran, without thought or
care ; every sense flooded with the
young beauty and joy of the sea
son ; his feet caught in the rhythm
of unfolding life, his imagination
aflame with a thousand elusive in
tonations of pleasure, a thousand
salutations from trees and birds
and restless creatures keeping time
and tune with the rhythm of the
creative hour in wood and field
and sky.

In later days, when the spell had
dissolved, what he saw on that day

lay like a golden mist behind him,
and what he heard lingered in
faint, inarticulate echoes that set
his pulses beating ; but he recalled
no definite glimpses and remem
bered no articulate words ; he only
knew that he had entered into the
joy of life, and had been given the
freedom of the world. Never again
did he hear a song in the woods
without pausing in hushed silence
because he stood on the verge of
an older world ; never again did
he catch a sudden glimpse of the
trunks of trees black against a dull
red background of oak leaves or a
wintry sky without a throbbing of
the heart, which made him aware
that he was in the presence of
the oldest mysteries.



When night fell and a low mur
mur of innumerable creatures, shel
tering in familiar places, filled the
woods, the boy looked in vain for
the Faun ; but far off he heard the
wild notes, softened by the hush
of the hour, like the sounds of
dreams dreamed when the world
was young.



IT was mid-June and the world
was in flower. The delicate
promise of April, when the
pipes of the Faun echoed in the
depths of woods faintly touched
with the tenderest green, was ful
filled in a mass and ripeness of
foliage which had parted with none
of its freshness, but had become
like a sea of moving and whisper
ing greenness. The delicious heat
of the early summer evoked a
vagrant and elusive fragrance from
the young grasses starred with
flowers. The morning songs, which
made the break of day throb with
an ecstasy of melody, were caught
up again and again through the


long, tranquil hours by careless
singers, happy in some hidden
place in the meadows or sheltered
within the edges of the wood ; and
with these sudden bursts of hidden
music, there came the cool breath
of the dawn into the sultry noon.
The world was folded in a dream of
heat ; not arid, blasting, palpitating ;
but caressing, vitalising, liberating.
The earth, loved of the sun, was
no longer coy and half afraid ; she
had given herself wholly, and in the
glad surrender the beauty that lay
hidden in her heart had clothed her
like a garment. In the fulfilment
of her life a sudden bliss had dis
solved her passionless coldness into
the life-giving warmth of universal


The Lyre of Apollo

So deep was the current of life
which flowed through the world
and so full and sweeping the tide,
that the youth, whom it seemed to
overtake in the heart of the pines,
was half intoxicated by the delicious
draughts held to his lips, and was in
an ecstasy of wonder and mystery
and joy. He had known the world
well since that early spring morn
ing years before when he had come
upon the Faun, and the two had
gone together, eager feet keeping
time to the vagrant music of the
pipes, to the secret places where
the wild things live and are not
afraid. From that hour in his boy
hood he had known bird and beast
so well that he came and went
among them even as one of them,


. ,





and his voice brought no terror
and his shadow no sudden fear as
he wandered, glad and friendly,
through the heart of the forest.
For half a decade he had had the
freedom of the field and the wood,
and had lived like a child of nature
in the joy and strength of the life
that is one with the health and
beauty of the hills and stars.

Again and again he had seemed
to hear, borne on the air of some
still afternoon, the faint music of
the pipes of the Faun, but he had
never again met that ancient dweller
in the woods face to face. Nor had
he needed to ; for the fresh delight,
the instinctive joy in the life of
things, the free play of muscle, the
complete surrender to the sight or


1 rMti


: - -, n

sound or pleasure of the moment,
had been his in full measure ; and
he had lived the life of the senses
in glad unconsciousness. And the
years had gone by and left no
mark on him, save the hardening
of muscle, the filling out of limb,
the waxing strength, the growing
exhilaration of youth and freedom
and infinite capacity for action and
pleasure swiftly coming to clear

:~^; & *&


/// ^?-





THROUGH the long years
of boyhood Nature lay
mirrored in his senses

without blur or mist, and the images
of her manifold wonder and beauty
had sunk into the depths of his
being. He had lived in the moving
world that lay about him, stirred
into incessant action by its constant
appeal to his energy, caught up and
carried forward for days together in
a joyful rush of play ; led hither
and thither in endless quest of little
mysteries of sight and sound that
teased and baffled him ; absorbed
into complete self-forgetfulness by
the vast continent where his lot
was cast, which called him with a

thousand voices to exploration and

Of late, however, there had come
a touch of pain in his careless joy ;
a sense of mystery which disturbed
and perplexed him ; a consciousness
of something strange and alien to
the wild, free life he had been liv
ing. He no longer felt at home
in the woods, and it seemed to
him as if the old intimacy with
the creatures that lived there had
been chilled. He was no longer
free-minded and free-hearted. He
had lived until this hour in the
world without him ; now the world
within was rising into view ; he was
coming to the knowledge of him
self. And that knowledge was
fraught with pain, as is all knowl-

- *

edge that penetrates to a man s soul
and becomes part of him. As a
child he had known only one world ;
now another world was rising into
view, vexed with mists, obscured by
shadows ; a strange, mysterious, un
discovered country, full of enchant
ments, but elusive and baffling.

The world he knew seemed to
contradict and fall apart from the
world which was slowly disclosing
itself to him, like a planet wheeling
out of storm and mist into an
ordered sphere. Every morning
brought him the joy of discovery
and the pain of "moving about in
worlds not realised." The old order
of his life had suddenly vanished ;
the sense of familiarity, of intimate
living, of home-keeping and home-

loving habit, had passed with it,
and the youth awoke to find him
self in a new world, without bound
or horizon, through which no paths
ran to wonted places of rest and




IN such a mood, exhilarated and
depressed, full of mounting
life, but with the touch of
pain on his spirit, the youth had
found the murmur of the pines
soothing and restful ; like a cool
hand laid on a hot forehead. Again
and again, in these confused and
perplexing months, he had fled to
their silence and shade as to a re
treat in the heart of old and dear

As he came across the fields on
this radiant morning all the springs
of joy were once more rising in
him ; the young summer touched
him through every sense, and his
soul rushed out to meet her in a


passion of devotion and self-sur
render. The pain was stilled, the
sense of loneliness had vanished ;
and in their place had come a sud
den consciousness of new intimacies
forming themselves with incredible
swiftness, a deep sense of a unity
between his spirit and the heart of
things of which the old familiarity
had been but a faint prophecy.
Over the undiscovered country of
his own soul the mists were melt
ing, the clouds rolling up into
the blue and dissolving in infinite
depths of tenderest sky, mountain
ranges were defining their outlines
against the sky, and the " light that
never was on sea or land " was
swiftly unveiling a harmony and
unity of world with world which

8B sS^

was itself a new and higher beauty
than had dawned before on the
vision of youth.

The stillness of the summer lay
in the heart of the wood, and only
the gentle swaying and whispering
of the pines, caressed by the light
est of moving airs, made one aware
that something stirred in the vast
and shining silence of the sky. It
seemed to the youth, when he had
entered the inner sanctuary of the
wood, as if the spirit of things were
touching invisible chords so softly
that they vibrated almost without
sound. He recalled the pipes of
the Faun, so clear, piercing, dis
tinct, tuned to the simplest pleas
ures of the senses, with the feeling
that he had heard them echoing




through the wood in some other
life ; so remote, detached and alien
were they to the richer mood, the
deeper emotion, the mounting pas
sion, of the time and place. He
heard them as one hears a clear, far
cry which lies in the ear, but calls
to nothing in one s spirit and sets
no echoes flying in one s soul.





ND while he hung upon the
silence, with the faint,
shrill notes of the pipes
making old music in his memory,
suddenly, as from some deeper re
treat, some more ancient sanctuary,
there rose upon the hushed air a
melody that laid a finger on his lips
and a hand on his heart and flooded
the innermost recesses of his being.
Stricken with sudden silence, mute
under the spell of a music which
left no thought unspoken and no
experience unexpressed, he hung on
the thrilling notes as if all the won
der and beauty and mystery of the
world and the soul had found speech
at last, and out of the innermost

heart of things life flowed in a tu
multuous, free, and joyous rush of

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Online LibraryHamilton Wright MabieIn Arcady → online text (page 1 of 3)