Verse > Anthologies > Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, ed. > Poems of Places > Greece
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Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, ed.  Poems of Places: An Anthology in 31 Volumes.
Greece and Turkey in Europe: Vol. XIX.  1876–79.
 
Introductory to Greece
The Dead Pan
Elizabeth Barrett Browning (1806–1861)
 
          Excited by Schiller’s “Götter Griechenlands,” and partly founded on a well-known tradition mentioned in a treatise of Plutarch (“De Oraculorum Defectu”), according to which, at the hour of the Saviour’s agony, a cry of “Great Pan is dead!” swept across the waves in the hearing of certain mariners, and the oracles ceased.—Mrs. Browning’s Poems.

GODS of Hellas, gods of Hellas,
Can ye listen in your silence?
Can your mystic voices tell us
Where ye hide? In floating islands,
With a wind that evermore        5
Keeps you out of sight of shore?
                        Pan, Pan is dead.
 
In what revels are ye sunken
In old Æthiopia?
Have the Pygmies made you drunken,        10
Bathing in mandragora
Your divine pale lips that shiver
Like the lotus in the river?
                        Pan, Pan is dead.
 
Do ye sit there still in slumber,        15
In gigantic Alpine rows?
The black poppies out of number
Nodding, dripping from your brows
To the red lees of your wine,—
And so kept alive and fine?        20
                        Pan, Pan is dead.
 
Or lie crushed your stagnant corses
Where the silver spheres roll on,
Stung to life by centric forces
Thrown like rays out from the sun?        25
While the smoke of your old altars
Is the shroud that round you welters?
                        Great Pan is dead.
 
“Gods of Hellas, gods of Hellas,”
Said the old Hellenic tongue!        30
Said the hero-oaths, as well as
Poets’ songs the sweetest sung!
Have ye grown deaf in a day?
Can ye speak not yea or nay—
                        Since Pan is dead?        35
 
Do ye leave your rivers flowing
All alone, O Naiades,
While your drenchéd locks dry slow in
This cold feeble sun and breeze?—
Not a word the Naiads say,        40
Though the rivers run for aye.
                        For Pan is dead.
 
From the gloaming of the oak-wood,
O ye Dryads, could ye flee?
At the rushing thunderstroke would        45
No sob tremble through the tree?—
Not a word the Dryads say,
Though the forests wave for aye.
                        For Pan is dead.
 
Have ye left the mountain places,        50
Oreads wild, for other tryst?
Shall we see no sudden faces
Strike a glory through the mist?
Not a sound the silence thrills
Of the everlasting hills.        55
                        Pan, Pan is dead.
 
O twelve gods of Plato’s vision,
Crowned to starry wanderings,—
With your chariots in procession,
And your silver clash of wings!        60
Very pale ye seem to rise,
Ghosts of Grecian deities,—
                        Now Pan is dead!
 
Jove! that right hand is unloaded,
Whence the thunder did prevail,        65
While in idiocy of godhead
Thou art staring the stars pale!
And thine eagle, blind and old,
Roughs his feathers in the cold.
                        Pan, Pan is dead.        70
 
Where, O Juno, is the glory
Of thy regal look and tread?
Will they lay, for evermore, thee,
On thy dim, straight, golden bed?
Will thy queendom all lie hid        75
Meekly under either lid?
                        Pan, Pan is dead.
 
Ha, Apollo! Floats his golden
Hair all mist-like where he stands,
While the Muses hang enfolding        80
Knee and foot with faint wild hands?
’Neath the clanging of thy bow,
Niobe looked lost as thou!
                        Pan, Pan is dead.
 
Shall the casque with its brown iron        85
Pallas’ broad blue eyes eclipse,
And no hero take inspiring
From the God-Greek of her lips?
’Neath her olive dost thou sit,
Mars the mighty, cursing it?        90
                        Pan, Pan is dead.
 
Bacchus, Bacchus! on the panther
He swoons,—bound with his own vines!
And his Mænads slowly saunter,
Head aside, among the pines,        95
While they murmur dreamingly,—
“Evohe—ah—evohe—!
                        Ah, Pan is dead.
 
Neptune lies beside the trident,
Dull and senseless as a stone;        100
And old Pluto deaf and silent
Is cast out into the sun:
Ceres smileth stern thereat,—
“We all now are desolate—
                        Now Pan is dead.”        105
 
Aphrodite! dead and driven
As thy native foam, thou art;
With the cestus long done heaving
On the white calm of thy heart!
Ai Adonis! At that shriek,        110
Not a tear runs down her cheek—
                        Pan, Pan is dead.
 
And the Loves, we used to know from
One another,—huddled lie,
Frore as taken in a snow-storm,        115
Close beside her tenderly,—
As if each had weakly tried
Once to kiss her as he died.
                        Pan, Pan is dead.
 
What, and Hermes? Time enthralleth        120
All thy cunning, Hermes, thus,—
And the ivy blindly crawleth
Round thy brave caduceus?
Hast thou no new message for us,
Full of thunder and Jove-glories?        125
                        Nay! Pan is dead.
 
Crownéd Cybele’s great turret
Rocks and crumbles on her head:
Roar the lions of her chariot
Toward the wilderness, unfed;        130
Scornful children are not mute,—
“Mother, mother, walk afoot—
                        Since Pan is dead.”
 
In the fiery-hearted centre
Of the solemn universe,        135
Ancient Vesta,—who could enter
To consume thee with this curse?
Drop thy gray chin on thy knee,
O thou palsied Mystery!
                        For Pan is dead.        140
 
Gods! we vainly do adjure you,—
Ye return nor voice nor sign!
Not a votary could secure you
Even a grave for your Divine!
Not a grave, to show thereby,        145
Here these gray old gods do lie.
                        Pan, Pan is dead.
 
Even that Greece who took your wages,
Calls the obolus outworn;
And the hoarse deep-throated ages        150
Laugh your godships unto scorn—
And the poets do disclaim you,
Or grow colder if they name you—
                        And Pan is dead.
 
Gods bereavéd, gods belated,        155
With your purples rent asunder!
Gods discrowned and desecrated,
Disinherited of thunder!
Now, the goats may climb and crop
The soft grass on Ida’s top—        160
                        Now, Pan is dead.
 
Calm, of old, the bark went onward,
When a cry more loud than wind,
Rose up, deepened, and swept sunward,
From the piléd Dark behind;        165
And the sun shrank and grew pale,
Breathed against by the great wail,—
                        “Pan, Pan is dead.”
 
And the rowers from the benches
Fell,—each shuddering on his face,—        170
While departing influences
Struck a cold back through the place;
And the shadow of the ship
Reeled along the passive deep—
                        “Pan, Pan is dead.”        175
 
And that dismal cry rose slowly,
And sank slowly through the air,
Full of spirit’s melancholy
And eternity’s despair!
And they heard the words it said,—        180
“Pan is dead,—Great Pan is dead,—
                        Pan, Pan is dead.”
 
’T was the hour when One in Sion
Hung for love’s sake on a cross,—
When his brow was chill with dying,        185
And his soul was faint with loss;
When his priestly blood dropped downward,
And his kingly eyes looked throneward,—
                        Then, Pan was dead.
 
By the love he stood alone in,        190
His sole Godhead stood complete;
And the false gods fell down moaning,
Each from off his golden seat,—
All the false gods with a cry
Rendered up their deity,—        195
                        Pan, Pan was dead.
 
Wailing wide across the islands,
They rent, vest-like, their divine!
And a darkness and a silence
Quenched the light of every shrine;        200
And Dodona’s oak swang lonely
Henceforth, to the tempest only.
                        Pan, Pan was dead.
*        *        *        *        *
 
 
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