Bulfinch's Mythology The Age of Fable

Page: 42

Schiller, in his poem, the Ideals, applies this tale of Pygmalion to the love of nature in a youthful heart. In Schiller's version, as in William Morris's, the statue is of marble.

  "As once with prayers in passion flowing,
  Pygmalion embraced the stone,
  Till from the frozen marble glowing,
  The light of feeling o'er him shone,
  So did I clasp with young devotion
  Bright Nature to a poet's heart;
  Till breath and warmth and vital motion
  Seemed through the statue form to dart.

  "And then in all my ardor sharing,
  The silent form expression found;
  Returned my kiss of youthful daring,
  And understood my heart's quick sound.
  Then lived for me the bright creation.
  The silver rill with song was rife;
  The trees, the roses shared sensation,
  An echo of my boundless life."
  Rev. A. G. Bulfinch (brother of the author).

Morris tells the story of Pygmalion and the Image in some of the most beautiful verses of the Earthly Paradise.

This is Galatea's description of her metamorphosis:

  "'My sweet,' she said, 'as yet I am not wise,
  Or stored with words aright the tale to tell,
  But listen: when I opened first mine eyes
  I stood within the niche thou knowest well,
  And from my hand a heavy thing there fell
  Carved like these flowers, nor could I see things clear,
  But with a strange confused noise could hear.

  "'At last mine eyes could see a woman fair,
  But awful as this round white moon o'erhead,
  So that I trembled when I saw her there,
  For with my life was born some touch of dread,
  And therewithal I heard her voice that said,
  "Come down and learn to love and be alive,
  For thee, a well-prized gift, today I give."'"


Dryope and Iole were sisters. The former was the wife of Andraemon, beloved by her husband, and happy in the birth of her first child. One day the sisters strolled to the bank of a stream that sloped gradually down to the water's edge, while the upland was overgrown with myrtles. They were intending to gather flowers for forming garlands for the altars of the nymphs, and Dryope carried her child at her bosom, a precious burden, and nursed him as she walked. Near the water grew a lotus plant, full of purple flowers. Dryope gathered some and offered them to the baby, and Iole was about to do the same, when she perceived blood dropping from the places where her sister had broken them off the stem. The plant was no other than the Nymph Lotis, who, running from a base pursuer, had been changed into this form. This they learned from the country people when it was too late.

Dryope, horror-struck when she perceived what she had done, would gladly have hastened from the spot, but found her feet rooted to the ground. She tried to pull them away, but moved nothing but her arms. The woodiness crept upward, and by degrees invested her body. In anguish she attempted to tear her hair, but found her hands filled with leaves. The infant felt his mother's bosom begin to harden, and the milk cease to flow. Iole looked on at the sad fate of her sister, and could render no assistance. She embraced the growing trunk, as if she would hold back the advancing wood, and would gladly have been enveloped in the same bark. At this moment Andraemon, the husband of Dryope, with her father, approached; and when they asked for Dryope, Iole pointed them to the new-formed lotus. They embraced the trunk of the yet warm tree, and showered their kisses on its leaves.