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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 ?


“ Apollo soon will pass within this gate,

And bind your tender body in a chain Inextricably tight, and fast as fate,

Unless you can delude the God again, Even when within his arms—ah, runagate!

A pretty torment both for gods and men Your father made when he made you!”—“Dear mother,” Replied sly Hermes, “ wherefore scold and bother ?


“ As if I were like other babes as old,

And understood nothing of what is what; And cared at all to hear my mother scold.

I in my subtle brain a scheme have got,
Which, whilst the sacred stars round Heaven are rolled,

Will profit you and me—nor shall our lot
Be as you counsel, without gifts or food,
To spend our lives in this obscure abode.



But we will leave this shadow-peopled cave,

And live among the Gods, and pass each day In high communion, sharing what they have

Of profuse wealth and unexhausted prey ; And, from the portion which my father gave To Phæbus, I will snatch my


away, Which if my father will not-nathelesse I, Who am the king of robbers, can but try.

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And, if Latona's son should find me out,

I 'll countermine him by a deeper plan ;
I 'll pierce the Pythian temple-walls, though stout,

And sack the fane of everything I can-
Caldrons and tripods of great worth no doubt,

Each golden cup and polished brazen pan, All the wrought tapestries and garments gay."So they together talked ;-meanwhile the Day


Ethereal born, arose out of the flood

Of flowing Ocean, bearing light to men. Apollo past toward the sacred wood,

Which from the inmost depths of its green glen



Echoes the voice of Neptune,—and there stood

On the same spot in green Onchestus then
That same old animal, the vine-dresser,
Who was employed hedging his vineyard there.


Latona's glorious Son began :-"I pray

Tell, ancient hedger of Onchestus green, Whether a drove of kine has past this way,

All heifers with crooked horns ? for they have been
Stolen from the herd in high Pieria,

Where a black bull was fed apart, between
Two woody mountains in a neighbouring glen,
And four fierce dogs watched there, unanimous as men.


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And, what is strange, the author of this theft

Has stolen the fatted heifers every one,
But the four dogs and the black bull are left:

Stolen they were last night at set of sun,
Of their soft beds and their sweet food bereft-

Now tell me, man born ere the world begun,

you seen any one pass with the cows ?” To whom the man of overhanging brows,

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My friend, it would require no common skill

Justly to speak of everything I see; On various purposes of good or ill

Many pass by my vineyard,—and to me 'Tis difficult to know the invisible Thoughts, which in all those many



be :Thus much alone I certainly can say, I tilled these vines till the decline of day,



“ And then I thought I saw, but dare not speak

With certainty of such a wondrous thing,
A child, who could not have been born a week,

Those fair-horned cattle closely following,
And in his hand he held a polished stick :

And, as on purpose, he walked wavering
From one side to the other of the road,
And with his face opposed the steps he trod.”


Apollo, hearing this, passed quicky on

No winged omen could have shown more clear That the deceiver was his father's son.

So the God wraps a purple atmosphere Around his shoulders, and like fire is gone

To famous Pylos, seeking his kine there, And found their track and his, yet hardly cold, And cried—“What wonder do mine




** Here are the footsteps of the horned herd

Turned back towards their fields of asphodel ;
But these! are not the tracks of beast or bird,

Grey wolf, or bear, or lion of the dell,
Or maned Centaur-sand was never stirred

By man or woman thus! Inexplicable !
Who with unwearied feet could e'er impress
The sand with such enormous vestiges ?


That was most strange—but this is stranger still !”

Thus having said, Phæbus impetuously Sought high Cyllene's forest-cinctured hill,

And the deep cavern where dark shadows lie,

And where the ambrosial nymph with happy will

Bore the Saturnian's love-child, Mercury-
And a delighted odour from the dew
Of the hill pastures, at his coming, flew.


And Phoebus stooped under the craggy roof

Arched over the dark cavern:-Maia's child Perceived that he came angry, far aloof,

About the cows of which he had been beguiled, And over him the fine and fragrant woof

Of his ambrosial swaddling-clothes he piled As among firebrands lies a burning spark Covered, beneath the ashes cold and dark.


There, like an infant who had sucked his fill,

And now was newly washed and put to bed, Awake, but courting sleep with weary will

And gathered in a lump, hands, feet, and head, He lay, and his beloved tortoise still

He grasped and held under his shoulder-blade; Phoebus the lovely mountain goddess knew, Not less her subtle, swindling baby, who


Lay swathed in his sly wiles. Round every crook

Of the ample cavern, for his kine Apollo Looked sharp; and when he saw them not, he took

The glittering key, and opened three great hollow Recesses in the rock—where many a nook

Was filled with the sweet food immortals swallow, And mighty heaps of silver and of gold Were piled within—a wonder to behold!

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