A MUSICAL INSTRUMENT
by: Elizabeth Barrett Browning
MORE POEMS BY ELIZABETH BARRETT BROWNING
was he doing, the great god Pan,
- Down in the reeds by the river?
- Spreading ruin and scattering ban,
- Splashing and paddling with hoofs of a goat,
- And breaking the golden lillies afloat
- With the dragon-fly on the river.
- He tore out a reed, the great god Pan,
- From the deep cool bed of the river;
- The limpid water turbidly ran,
- And the broken lilies a-dying lay,
- And the dragon-fly had fled away,
- Ere he brought it out of the river.
- High on the shore sat the great god Pan,
- While turbidly flow'd the river;
- And hack'd and hew'd as a great god can
- With his hard bleak steel at the patient reed,
- Till there was not a sign of the leaf indeed
- To prove it fresh from the river.
- He cut it short, did the great god Pan
- (How tall it stood in the river!),
- Then drew the pitch, like the heart of a man,
- Steadily from the outside ring,
- And notch'd the poor dry empty thing
- In holes, as he sat by the river.
- 'This is the way,' laugh'd the great god Pan
- (Laugh'd while he sat by the river),
- 'The only way, since gods began
- To make sweet music, they could succeed.'
- Then dropping his mouth to a hole in the reed,
- He blew in the power by the river.
- Sweet, sweet, sweet, O Pan!
- Piercing sweet by the river!
- Blinding sweet, O great god Pan!
- The sun on the hill forgot to die,
- And the lilies revived, and the dragon-fly
- Came back to dream on the river.
- Yet half a beast is the great god Pan,
- To laugh as he sits by the river,
- Making a poet out of a man:
- The true gods sigh for the cost and pain--
- For the reed which grows nevermore again
- As a reed with the reeds of the river.