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A Book of Myths

Page: 83

And evermore has she come and gone, and seedtime and harvest have never failed, and the cold, sleeping world has awaked and rejoiced, and heralded with the song of birds, and the bursting of green buds and the blooming of flowers, the resurrection from the dead—the coming of spring.

“Time calls, and Change
Commands both men and gods, and speeds us on
We know not whither; but the old earth smiles
Spring after spring, and the seed bursts again
Out of its prison mould, and the dead lives
Renew themselves, and rise aloft and soar
And are transformed, clothing themselves with change,
Till the last change be done.”

Lewis Morris.

FOOTNOTE:

[5] Jean Ingelow.


[Pg 169]

LATONA AND THE RUSTICS

Through the tropic nights their sonorous, bell-like booming can be heard coming up from the marshes, and when they are unseen, the song of the bull-frogs would suggest creatures full of solemn dignity. The croak of their lesser brethren is less impressive, yet there is no escape from it on those evenings when the dragon-flies’ iridescent wings are folded in sleep, and the birds in the branches are still, when the lilies on the pond have closed their golden hearts, and even the late-feeding trout have ceased to plop and to make eddies in the quiet water. “Krroak! krroak! krroak!” they go—“krroak! krroak! krroak!”

It is unceasing, unending. It goes on like the whirr of the wheels of a great clock that can never run down—a melancholy complaint against the hardships of destiny—a raucous protest against things as they are.

This is the story of the frogs that have helped to point the gibes of Aristophanes, the morals of Æsop, and which have always been, more or less, regarded as the low comedians of the animal world.

Latona, or Leto, was the goddess of dark nights, and upon her the mighty Zeus bestowed the doubtful favour of his errant love. Great was the wrath of Hera, his queen, when she found that she was no longer the [Pg 170] dearest wife of her omnipotent lord, and with furious upbraidings she banished her rival to earth. And when Latona had reached the place of her exile she found that the vengeful goddess had sworn that she would place her everlasting ban upon anyone, mortal or immortal, who dared to show any kindness or pity to her whose only fault had been that Zeus loved her. From place to place she wandered, an outcast even among men, until, at length, she came to Lycia.

One evening, as the darkness of which she was goddess had just begun to fall, she reached a green and pleasant valley. The soft, cool grass was a delight to her tired feet, and when she saw the silvery gleam of water she rejoiced, for her throat was parched and her lips dry and she was very weary. By the side of this still pond, where the lilies floated, there grew lithe grey willows and fresh green osiers, and these were being cut by a crowd of chattering rustics.


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