Once a fowler, young and artless,
To the quiet greenwood came;
Full of skill was he and heartless
In pursuit of feathered game.
And betimes he chanced to see
Eros perching in a tree.
"What strange bird is that, I wonder?"
Thought the youth, and spread his snare;
Eros, chuckling at the blunder,
Gayly scampered here and there.
Do his best, the simple clod
Could not snare the agile god!
Blubbering, to his aged master
Went the fowler in dismay,
And confided his disaster
With that curious bird that day;
"Master, hast thou ever heard
Of so ill-disposed a bird?"
"Heard of him? Aha, most truly!"
Quoth the master with a smile;
"And thou too, shall know him duly--
Thou art young, but bide awhile,
And old Eros will not fly
From thy presence by and by!
"For when thou art somewhat older
That same Eros thou didst see,
More familiar grown and bolder,
Shall become acquaint with thee;
And when Eros comes thy way
Mark my word, he comes to stay!"
Once came Venus to me, bringing
Eros where my cattle fed--
"Teach this little boy your singing,
Gentle herdsman," Venus said.
I was young--I did not know
Whom it was that Venus led--
That was many years ago!
In a lusty voice but mellow--
Callow pedant! I began
To instruct the little fellow
In the mysteries known to man;
Sung the noble cithern's praise,
And the flute of dear old Pan,
And the lyre that Hermes plays.
But he paid no heed unto me--
Nay, that graceless little boy
Coolly plotted to undo me--
With his songs of tender joy;
And my pedantry o'erthrown,
Eager was I to employ
His sweet ritual for mine own!
Ah, these years of ours are fleeting!
Yet I have not vainly wrought,
Since to-day I am repeating
What dear lessons Eros taught;
Love, and always love, and then--
Counting all things else for naught--
Love and always love again!