Verse > Henry Wadsworth Longfellow > Complete Poetical Works
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Henry Wadsworth Longfellow (1807–1882).  Complete Poetical Works.  1893.
 
The Masque of Pandora
I. The Workshop of Hephæstus
 
HEPHÆSTUS (standing before the statue of Pandora).
NOT fashioned out of gold, like Hera’s throne,
Nor forged of iron like the thunderbolts
Of Zeus omnipotent, or other works
Wrought by my hands at Lemnos or Olympus,
But moulded in soft clay, that unresisting        5
Yields itself to the touch, this lovely form
Before me stands, perfect in every part.
Not Aphrodite’s self appeared more fair,
When first upwafted by caressing winds
She came to high Olympus, and the gods        10
Paid homage to her beauty. Thus her hair
Was cinctured; thus her floating drapery
Was like a cloud about her, and her face
Was radiant with the sunshine and the sea.
 
THE VOICE OF ZEUS.
Is thy work done, Hephæstus?

HEPHÆSTUS.
                          It is finished!
        15
 
THE VOICE.
Not finished till I breathe the breath of life
Into her nostrils, and she moves and speaks.
 
HEPHÆSTUS.
Will she become immortal like ourselves?
 
THE VOICE.
The form that thou hast fashioned out of clay
Is of the earth and mortal; but the spirit,        20
The life, the exhalation of my breath,
Is of diviner essence and immortal.
The gods shall shower on her their benefactions,
She shall possess all gifts: the gift of song,
The gift of eloquence, the gift of beauty,        25
The fascination and the nameless charm
That shall lead all men captive.

HEPHÆSTUS.
                    Wherefore? wherefore?
 
A wind shakes the house.
I hear the rushing of a mighty wind
Through all the halls and chambers of my house!
Her parted lips inhale it, and her bosom        30
Heaves with the inspiration. As a reed
Beside a river in the rippling current
Bends to and fro, she bows or lifts her head.
She gazes round about as if amazed;
She is alive; she breathes, but yet she speaks not!        35
 
PANDORA descends from the pedestal

CHORUS OF THE GRACES

AGLAIA.
    In the workshop of Hephæstus
      What is this I see?
    Have the Gods to four increased us
      Who were only three?
    Beautiful in form and feature,        40
      Lovely as the day,
    Can there be so fair a creature
      Formed of common clay?
 
THALIA.
O sweet, pale face! O lovely eyes of azure,
  Clear as the waters of a brook that run        45
  Limpid and laughing in the summer sun!
  O golden hair, that like a miser’s treasure
In its abundance overflows the measure!
  O graceful form, that cloudlike floatest on
  With the soft, undulating gait of one        50
  Who moveth as if motion were a pleasure!
By what name shall I call thee? Nymph or Muse,
  Callirrhoë or Urania? Some sweet name
  Whose every syllable is a caress
Would best befit thee; but I cannot choose,        55
  Nor do I care to choose; for still the same,
  Nameless or named, will be thy loveliness.
 
EUPHROSYNE.
    Dowered with all celestial gifts,
      Skilled in every art
    That ennobles and uplifts        60
      And delights the heart,
    Fair on earth shall be thy fame
      As thy face is fair,
    And Pandora be the name
      Thou henceforth shalt bear.        65
 
 
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