A Book of Myths
Page: 35“For my beauty, Eros—Love—loved me; and now my beauty is worn and wasted and well-nigh gone. Were I to open this box and make use of the ointment of Proserpine, then indeed I should be fair enough to be the bride of him who, even now, believes that he loves me—of Eros whose love is my life!”
So it came to pass that she opened the fateful box. And out of it there came not Beauty, but Sleep, that put his gyves upon her limbs, and on her eyelids laid heavy fingers. And Psyche sank down by the wayside, the prisoner of Sleep.
But Eros, who had loved her ever, with a love that knew the ebb and flow of no tides, rose from his bed and [Pg 67] went in search of her who had braved even the horrors of Hades for his dear sake. And by the wayside he found her, fettered by sleep. Her little oval face was white as a snowdrop. Like violets were her heavy eyelids, and underneath her sleeping eyes a violet shadow lay. Once had her mouth been as the bow of Eros, painted in carmine. Now either end of the bow was turned downwards, and its colour was that of a faded rose-leaf.
And as Eros looked at her that he loved, pity stirred his heart, as the wind sweeps through the sighing, grey leaves of the willow, or sings through the bowing reeds.
“My Belovèd!” he said, and he knew that Psyche was indeed his beloved. It was her fair soul that he loved, nor did it matter to him whether her body was like a rose in June or as a wind-scourged tree in December. And as his lips met hers, Psyche awoke, and heard his soft whisper:
Thou mayst look on me now. I go no more,
But am thine own forever.”
And there all the deathless gods were assembled, and Aphrodite no longer looked upon her who had once been her slave with darkened brows, but smiled upon her as the sun smiles upon a new-born flower. And when into the hand of Psyche there was placed a cup [Pg 68] of gold, the voice of the great Father and King of Olympus rang out loud and clear:
For with this draught shalt thou be born again,
And live for ever free from care and pain.”
In this wise did Psyche, a human soul, attain by bitter suffering to the perfect happiness of purified love.
And still do we watch the butterfly, which is her emblem, bursting from its ugly tomb in the dark soil, and spreading joyous white and gold-powdered wings in the caressing sunshine, amidst the radiance and the fragrance of the summer flowers. Still, too, do we sadly watch her sister, the white moth, heedlessly rushing into pangs unutterable, thoughtlessly seeking the anguish that brings her a cruel death.
THE CALYDONIAN HUNT
Œneus and Althæa were king and queen of Calydon, and to them was born a son who was his mother’s joy and yet her bitterest sorrow. Meleager was his name, and ere his birth his mother dreamed a dream that the child that she bore was a burning firebrand. But when the baby came he was a royal child indeed, a little fearless king from the first moment that his eyes, like unseeing violets, gazed steadily up at his mother. To the chamber where he lay by his mother’s side came the three Fates, spinning, ceaselessly spinning.