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A Book of Myths

Page: 93

“The heart that has truly loved never forgets,
But as truly loves on to the close;
As the sunflower turns on her god when he sets
The same look that she turned when he rose.”

Some there are who say that not into the bold-faced sunflower did her metamorphosis take place, but into that purple heliotrope that gives an exquisite offering of fragrance to the sun-god when his warm rays touch it. And in the old walled garden, while the bees drowsily hum, and the white pigeons croon, and the dashing sunflower gives Apollo gaze for gaze, and the scent of the mignonette mingles with that of clove pinks and blush roses, the fragrance of the heliotrope is, above all, worthy incense to be offered upon his altar by the devout lover of a god.


[Pg 192]

THE CRANES OF IBYCUS

“For murder, though it have no tongue, will speak
With most miraculous organ.”

Shakespeare.

Ibycus, the poet friend of Apollo, was a happy man as he journeyed on foot through the country where the wild flowers grew thick and the trees were laden with blossom towards the city of Corinth. His tuneful voice sang snatches of song of his own making, and ever and again he would try how his words and music sounded on his lyre. He was light of heart, because ever had he thought of good, and not evil, and had always sung only of great and noble deeds and of those things that helped his fellow-men. And now he went to Corinth for the great chariot-races, and for the great contest of musicians where every true poet and musician in Greece was sure to be found.

It was the time of the return to earth of Adonis and of Proserpine, and as he was reverently about to enter the sacred grove of Poseidon, where the trees grew thick, and saw, crowning the height before him, the glittering towers of Corinth, he heard, overhead, the harsh cries of some other returned exiles. Ibycus smiled, as he looked up and beheld the great flock of grey birds, with their long legs and strong, outstretched wings, come back from their winter sojourn on the golden [Pg 193] sands of Egypt, to dance and beck and bow to each other by the marshes of his homeland.

“Welcome back, little brothers!” he cried. “May you and I both meet with naught but kindness from the people of this land!”

And when the cranes again harshly cried, as if in answer to his greeting, the poet walked gaily on, further into the shadow of that dark wood out of which he was never to pass as living man. Joyous, and fearing no evil, he had been struck and cast to the ground by cruel and murderous hands ere ever he knew that two robbers were hidden in a narrow pass where the brushwood grew thick. With all his strength he fought, but his arms were those of a musician and not of a warrior, and very soon he was overpowered by those who assailed him. He cried in vain to gods and to men for help, and in his final agony he heard once more the harsh voices of the migratory birds and the rush of their speeding wings. From the ground, where he bled to death, he looked up to them.


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