Sunday, April 05, 2009

We're working on our bird songs now. So far, I only know a few: the robin, the cardinal, the jay, the sparrow, the titmouse, the chickadee.

This afternoon, was sitting out in the yard listening to the mad chatter and trying to isolate the individual songs. I think I got a few correct, anyway.

Closed my eyes for a bit and, while listening to the songs, got to thinking about Pan's flute. According to Edith Hamilton's Mythology, The satyr fell in love with a nymph called Syrinx. Terrified of him, she fled. Just as he was about to catch her, however, her sisters turned her into "a tuft of reeds." Not one to give up, Pan created a shepherd's flute from the reeds that Syrinx had become and beeswax.

A Musical Instrument

What was he doing, the great god Pan,
Down in the reeds by the river?
Spreading ruin and scattering ban,
Splashing and paddling with hoofs of a goat,
And breaking the golden lilies afloat
With the dragon-fly on the river.

He tore out a reed, the great god Pan,
From the deep cool bed of the river:
The limpid water turbidly ran,
And the broken lilies a-dying lay,
And the dragon-fly had fled away,
Ere he brought it out of the river.

High on the shore sat the great god Pan
While turbidly flowed the river;
And hacked and hewed as a great god can,
With his hard bleak steel at the patient reed,
Till there was not a sign of the leaf indeed
To prove it fresh from the river.

He cut it short, did the great god Pan,
(How tall it stood in the river!)
Then drew the pith, like the heart of a man,
Steadily from the outside ring,
And notched the poor dry empty thing
In holes, as he sat by the river.

'This is the way,' laughed the great god Pan
(Laughed while he sat by the river),
'The only way, since gods began
To make sweet music, they could succeed.'
Then, dropping his mouth to a hole in the reed,
He blew in power by the river.

-Elizabeth Barrett Browning

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