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THE MARBLE FAUN

 ("Il semblait grelotter.") 
 
 {XXXVI., December, 1837.} 


 He seemed to shiver, for the wind was keen. 
 'Twas a poor statue underneath a mass 
 Of leafless branches, with a blackened back 
 And a green foot—an isolated Faun 
 In old deserted park, who, bending forward, 
 Half-merged himself in the entangled boughs, 
 Half in his marble settings. He was there, 
 Pensive, and bound to earth; and, as all things 
 Devoid of movement, he was there—forgotten. 
 
 Trees were around him, whipped by icy blasts— 
 Gigantic chestnuts, without leaf or bird, 
 And, like himself, grown old in that same place. 
 Through the dark network of their undergrowth, 
 Pallid his aspect; and the earth was brown. 
 Starless and moonless, a rough winter's night 
 Was letting down her lappets o'er the mist. 
 This—nothing more: old Faun, dull sky, dark wood. 
 
 Poor, helpless marble, how I've pitied it! 
 Less often man—the harder of the two. 
 
 So, then, without a word that might offend 
 His ear deformed—for well the marble hears 
 The voice of thought—I said to him: "You hail 
 From the gay amorous age. O Faun, what saw you 
 When you were happy? Were you of the Court? 
 
 "Speak to me, comely Faun, as you would speak 
 To tree, or zephyr, or untrodden grass. 
 Have you, O Greek, O mocker of old days, 
 Have you not sometimes with that oblique eye 
 Winked at the Farnese Hercules?—Alone, 
 Have you, O Faun, considerately turned 
 From side to side when counsel-seekers came, 
 And now advised as shepherd, now as satyr?— 
 Have you sometimes, upon this very bench, 
 Seen, at mid-day, Vincent de Paul instilling 
 Grace into Gondi?—Have you ever thrown 
 That searching glance on Louis with Fontange, 
 On Anne with Buckingham; and did they not 
 Start, with flushed cheeks, to hear your laugh ring forth 
 From corner of the wood?—Was your advice 
 As to the thyrsis or the ivy asked, 
 When, in grand ballet of fantastic form, 
 God Phoebus, or God Pan, and all his court, 
 Turned the fair head of the proud Montespan, 
 Calling her Amaryllis?—La Fontaine, 
 Flying the courtiers' ears of stone, came he, 
 Tears on his eyelids, to reveal to you 
 The sorrows of his nymphs of Vaux?—What said 
 Boileau to you—to you—O lettered Faun, 
 Who once with Virgil, in the Eclogue, held 
 That charming dialogue?—Say, have you seen 
 Young beauties sporting on the sward?—Have you 
 Been honored with a sight of Molière 
 In dreamy mood?—Has he perchance, at eve, 
 When here the thinker homeward went, has he, 
 Who—seeing souls all naked—could not fear 
 Your nudity, in his inquiring mind, 
 Confronted you with Man?" 
 
 Under the thickly-tangled branches, thus 
 Did I speak to him; he no answer gave. 
 
 I shook my head, and moved myself away; 
 Then, from the copses, and from secret caves 
 Hid in the wood, methought a ghostly voice 
 Came forth and woke an echo in my souls 
 As in the hollow of an amphora. 
 
 "Imprudent poet," thus it seemed to say, 
 "What dost thou here? Leave the forsaken Fauns 
 In peace beneath their trees! Dost thou not know, 
 Poet, that ever it is impious deemed, 
 In desert spots where drowsy shades repose— 
 Though love itself might prompt thee—to shake down 
 The moss that hangs from ruined centuries, 
 And, with the vain noise of throe ill-timed words, 
 To mar the recollections of the dead?" 
 
 Then to the gardens all enwrapped in mist 
 I hurried, dreaming of the vanished days, 
 And still behind me—hieroglyph obscure 
 Of antique alphabet—the lonely Faun 
 Held to his laughter, through the falling night. 
 
 I went my way; but yet—in saddened spirit 
 Pondering on all that had my vision crossed, 
 Leaves of old summers, fair ones of old time— 
 Through all, at distance, would my fancy see, 
 In the woods, statues; shadows in the past! 
 
 WILLIAM YOUNG 


 A LOVE FOR WINGED THINGS. 
 
 {XXXVII., April 12, 1840.} 


 My love flowed e'er for things with wings. 
 When boy I sought for forest fowl, 
 And caged them in rude rushes' mesh, 
 And fed them with my breakfast roll; 
 So that, though fragile were the door, 
 They rarely fled, and even then 
 Would flutter back at faintest call! 
 
 Man-grown, I charm for men. 


 





Poem by Victor Hugo
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