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Ganymedes. Hyacinthus.

Such was the grove
by Orpheus drawn together; and he sat
surrounded by assembled animals,
and many strange Birds. When he tried the chords
by touching with his thumb, and was convinced
the notes were all in harmony, although
attuned to various melody, he raised
his voice and sang:

“Oh my loved mother, Muse,
from Jove inspire my song—for all things yield,
to the unequalled sway of Jove—oh, I
have sung so often Jupiter's great power
before this day, and in a wilder strain,
I've sung the giants and victorious bolts
hurled on Phlegraean plains. But now I need
the gentler touch; for I would sing of boys,
the favorites of Gods, and even of maids
who had to pay the penalty of wrong.”


The king of all the Gods once burned with love
for Ganymede of Phrygia. He found
a shape more pleasing even than his own.
Jove would not take the form of any bird,
except the eagle's, able to sustain
the weight of his own thunderbolts. Without
delay, Jove on fictitious eagle wings,
stole and flew off with that loved Trojan boy:
who even to this day, against the will
of Juno, mingles nectar in the cups
of his protector, mighty Jupiter.


You also, Hyacinthus, would have been
set in the sky! if Phoebus had been given
time which the cruel fates denied for you.
But in a way you are immortal too.
Though you have died. Always when warm spring
drives winter out, and Aries (the Ram)
succeeds to Pisces (watery Fish), you rise
and blossom on the green turf. And the love
my father had for you was deeper than he felt
for others. Delphi center of the world,
had no presiding guardian, while the God
frequented the Eurotas and the land
of Sparta, never fortified with walls.
His zither and his bow no longer fill
his eager mind and now without a thought
of dignity, he carried nets and held
the dogs in leash, and did not hesitate
to go with Hyacinthus on the rough,
steep mountain ridges; and by all of such
associations, his love was increased.

Now Titan was about midway, betwixt
the coming and the banished night, and stood
at equal distance from those two extremes.
Then, when the youth and Phoebus were well stripped,
and gleaming with rich olive oil, they tried
a friendly contest with the discus. First
Phoebus, well-poised, sent it awhirl through air,
and cleft the clouds beyond with its broad weight;
from which at length it fell down to the earth,
a certain evidence of strength and skill.
Heedless of danger Hyacinthus rushed
for eager glory of the game, resolved
to get the discus. But it bounded back
from off the hard earth, and struck full against
your face, O Hyacinthus! Deadly pale
the God's face went — as pallid as the boy's.
With care he lifted the sad huddled form.

The kind god tries to warm you back to life,
and next endeavors to attend your wound,
and stay your parting soul with healing herbs.
His skill is no advantage, for the wound
is past all art of cure. As if someone,
when in a garden, breaks off violets,
poppies, or lilies hung from golden stems,
then drooping they must hang their withered heads,
and gaze down towards the earth beneath them; so,
the dying boy's face droops, and his bent neck,
a burden to itself, falls back upon
his shoulder: “You are fallen in your prime
defrauded of your youth, O Hyacinthus!”
Moaned Apollo. “I can see in your sad wound
my own guilt, and you are my cause of grief
and self-reproach. My own hand gave you death
unmerited — I only can be charged
with your destruction.—What have I done wrong?
Can it be called a fault to play with you?
Should loving you be called a fault? And oh,
that I might now give up my life for you!
Or die with you! But since our destinies
prevent us you shall always be with me,
and you shall dwell upon my care-filled lips.
The lyre struck by my hand, and my true songs
will always celebrate you. A new flower
you shall arise, with markings on your petals,
close imitation of my constant moans:
and there shall come another to be linked
with this new flower, a valiant hero shall
be known by the same marks upon its petals.”

And while Phoebus, Apollo, sang these words
with his truth-telling lips, behold the blood
of Hyacinthus, which had poured out on
the ground beside him and there stained the grass,
was changed from blood; and in its place a flower,
more beautiful than Tyrian dye, sprang up.
It almost seemed a lily, were it not
that one was purple and the other white.

But Phoebus was not satisfied with this.
For it was he who worked the miracle
of his sad words inscribed on flower leaves.
These letters AI, AI, are inscribed
on them. And Sparta certainly is proud
to honor Hyacinthus as her son;
and his loved fame endures; and every year
they celebrate his solemn festival.

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