NOTE: Grady wrote this poem while fighting “WWII”, stationed at an airbase where B-17s were loaded with bombs, at Bury St. Edmonds in East Anglia (England).
Ho! Let there be rejoicing, for I, Pan,
Am come to bid you welcome to my shrine.
Bid trumpets flourish; let my joy be thine,
For by the beard of Zeus and Neptune’s trine
I’ve waited long enough. Let him who can
Gainsay me. Come! the festal table creaks
With slabs of slaughtered ox and tender lamb,
While from my porcine herds we have sweet ham
To woo the taste of gluttony, and ram
Horn mugs awash with mead. Oho, who speaks?
Well, by my rough and hairy soul, of course!
For each fair maiden here’s a dainty paste
And aged wine to suit the fickle taste.
Fall to, m’lads, or would you have me waste
This festive hour in talking? Here’s the source
Of all good things of life, so take your fill.
I’ll have no pampered darlings at my feast;
You’ll drink your liquor like a man, at least,
And eat your share of roasted beef, that beast
Of succulent refreshment. Now my will
In playing host to such a famished lot
As you’ve turned out to be this russet day
Is work. Aye, work, m’lads, the work of play!
And such sweet work indeed I wot you’ll say
When you have found my pleasure. Like as not
You’ll scamper off like rabbits to the fields
When I have made my meaning to appear,
But first a word. Now gather round me near;
Move! The lads sit there, the fairest damsels here.
Oho! I jest. But Pan must joke; it shields
A tender heart. I love you all in sooth
For are you not my children? I would make
No difference between you for ‘twould take
The joy of living from your eyes, and shake
Your faith in me, your parent. Now the truth
In this, my idle jesting, is that you
Have come to manhood, and must therefor know
What ordeals lie ahead. This being so,
I’ve called you hither that I ‘least might show
You guidance in this matter. Words are few
And ill express our subtle thoughts, so I
Must perforce speak to you as mind to mind.
Yet hold! I know your thought. I’m not as blind
As some would have you think me. Nor as kind
As others say. Why should I be? Why lie
About your attributions? Yet this thought
Of yours must have its answer. In the years
Gone by I’ve watched you grow, I’ve watched your fears,
Your little gods and devils, and your tears
Of childish hurt; yet slowly I have wrought
That which is best in you to finer gold.
Now heed. This mystery of mine is Truth!
No more. There is the serpent, and the tooth.
And though my shaggy thighs may seem uncouth
To those who know me not, I have been told
They serve their purpose well–and, aye, they do!
But that is idle chatter. Now you ask,
“If this is Truth then why this idle mask?”
“If we have passed the ordeals, why the task?”
And I will give you answer. This is you.
Your life, your love, your will, your fate; not mine.
Though you be part of me you are alone
And individual. Your flesh and bone
Are fashoned from the earth. These facts are known
So let it be. Curse not those gods of thine
Cast in your imagery, nor veil the shrine
Of your incarnate bodies. They are pure.
Keep them so. Exercise is good. Endure
The discipline of hardship. Thus insure
Complete control of action. By this sign
You’ll know you’re fit for living, not before.
As for your birthdate; at the Equinox
Of Gods the word that mystically unlocks
My donjon keep is given. By the hooks
Of Chiron’s horny hooves you will adore
Our Lady, Queen of Space, or you will fail
In this your chosen mission. This is so
Because the Aeon now at hand must show
The universe you live in. And the slow
Evolving of your concepts winds its tail
In ever uprward spirals; so your soul,
Now clothed as you are, now in deep repose,
Has slowly come to understand the Rose,
The Cross, the Lux, the Tree that grows
Around the world. The task was hard. The toil
Was terrible, but just. For only thus
Could I be certain you were forged to last
Through toil and inquisitions’ flaming mast.
The dark age of the Slain God has been passed;
Aye, it has slowly passed. But now, the puss
Of ulsers slow to heal, it lingers still.
Many’s the night I’ve walked the Wilderness
With stars for company. And ‘neath the press
Of the eternal trees have made address
Unto myself and questioned whether Will,
Or Love, or Hate, or blind and callous Fate
Could sanction your imprisonment. You found
No respite in revolting. You were ground
On racks blood stained by the sadist Hound
Of your created Hell, and found the gate
Of Heaven locked against you. Nor could Death
Reprive you from the sufferings, for I,
Yea, even I, had so decreed. Your cry
Was mine own aching heart, yet the reply
Came ever back the same: they have the breath
Of Life, so they must die, and live and die
And live until they come to know their place.
These are not empty clods, they are a race
Ordained for destiny. Though I could trace
Intelligence in any form, yet I
Have found you best adapted to my plan.
‘Tis true upon the Earth you’re not unique,
Yet also true that you must ever seek
The far beyond. And ’tis this perverse streak
Of yours that so intrigues Old Father Pan!
But now a pox on such philosophy.
My melancholia would go too deep
Should I recount your tails of woe, and keep
Us from our pleasant task. The dreadful sleep
Of that long night wherein iniquity
Against the self held reign has been replaced!
Arise my children and awake, nor fear;
The Aeon of the Crowned Child is here.
“Do what thou wilt shall be the Law.” How clear
Did Rabelais foresee, but now make haste!
Too long I’ve kept you waiting with my talk
Of death and sacrifice; those words are ill.
You have no right to do aught but your Will!
Do that and nothing more and you will till
The fertile fields of ecstasy. I’ll walk
A way along the brook with you. ‘Tis naught;
I’m stiff from sitting still so long is all.
And at my age no wonder. Aye, ’tis Fall
Again. The leaves are touched with gold, the pall
Of snow filled clouds is yet to come, though frought
With Winter’s chill the bracing air is sharp,
But not too sharp, just right I always say.
The Summer’s time for work, the Fall for play!
And with my vats near bursting with the spray
Of my beloved vine we’ll take the harp
Of the Aeolian winds; I’ll play the pipe
And you can dance! Now off with you. Begone!
Across the fields and greensward of the lawn,
Before I should forget myself and yawn
When there is someone looking. Aye, the ripe
Fruit has been gathered in, the fields are brown,
The lovely grape is pressed, and I can scratch
Myself in comfort, now that they’re gone. Catch
As catch can, down the hill, match and rematch
When they spill. Not a worry, care or frown
This pleasant day. Tomorrow? Who can tell?
Not I at least. Oh, I suppose I could,
But not today; there’s Wine to-hand! Aye, good
Red wholesome wine, I wot. Wine of the Wood.
Wine of the World! I’ll help myself. And well
I may. ‘Tis mine indeed. Ah, here’s to health–
And may it bless them in their way.
And here’s to life–and here’s to love–and may
The light of liberty be theirs, I say.
And here’s to Pan–for this, indeed is wealth!
Grady Louis McMurtry