The Faun

A poem by Henry Newbolt

Yesterday I thought to roam
Idly through the fields of home,
And I came at morning's end
To our brook's familiar bend.
There I raised my eyes, and there,
Shining through an ampler air,
Folded in by hills of blue
Such as Wessex never knew,
Changed as in a waking dream
Flowed the well-remembered stream.

Now a line of wattled pale
Fenced the downland from the vale,
Now the sedge was set with reeds
Fitter for Arcadian meads,
And where I was wont to find
Only things of timid kind,
Now the Genius of the pool
Mocked me from his corner cool.
Eyes he had with malice quick,
Tufted hair and ears a-prick,
And, above a tiny chin,
Lips with laughter wide a-grin.

Therewithal a shaggy flank
In the crystal clear he sank,
And beneath the unruffled tide
A little pair of hooves I spied.

Yet though plainly there he stood,
Creature of the wave and wood,
Under his satyric grace
Something manlike I could trace,
And the eyes that mocked me there
Like a gleam of memory were.

"So," said I at last to him,
Frowning from the river's brim,
"This is where you come to play,
Heedless of the time of day."

"Nay," replied the youthful god,
Leaning on the flowery sod,
"Here there are no clocks, and so
Time can neither come nor go."

"Little goat," said I, "you're late,
And your dinner will not wait:
If to-day you wish to eat,
Trust me, you must find your feet."

"Father," said the little goat,
"Do you know that I can float?

Do you know that I can dive
As deep as any duck alive?
Would you like to see me drop
Out of yonder willow's top?"

Sternly I replied again,
"You may spare your boasting vain;
All that you can do I did
When I was myself a kid."
Laughter followed such as pealed
Through the first unfurrowed field.
"Then what mother says is true,
And your hoof is cloven too!"

Ah!--but that irreverent mirth,
Learnt of the primeval earth,
Surely was with magic fraught
That upon my pulses wrought:
I too felt the air of June
Humming with a merry tune,
I too reckoned, like a boy,
Less of Time and more of Joy:
Till, as homeward I was wending,
I perceived my back unbending,
And before the mile was done
Ran beside my truant son.

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