I, then, tell you that Orpheus has sung well, and is of the elect of the gods. His music intoxicated the whole forest. The eagles drew near and flew above our heads, the flowering bushes gently swayed their mysterious censers, the bees left their cells to come and listen. As for me, O Master were I in your place I should yield to him my garland of vine-shoots and my thyrsus. There exist two powers: the real and the ideal. What Hercules would do with his wrists, Orpheus does with his inspiration. With a single blow the robust god could shatter Mount Athos itself. Orpheus, with the potency of his triumphant voice, could subdue Nemea’s lion and the wild boar of Erimanthus. Of men, some have been born to forge metals, others to wrest from the soil the ears of wheat, others to fight in bloody wars, and others still to teach, to glorify, and to sing. If I am your cupbearer and I give you wine, it is the joy of your palate; if I offer you a hymn, it is the joy of your soul.”
What forest better than the forest of the satyr, whom he would en-chant, where he would be held as a demigod; a forest all joy, and dancing, and beauty, and voluptuousness; where nymphs and bacchantes were ever fondled and ever virginal; where there were grapes and roses and the noise of the sistrum, and where the goat-footed king danced drunk before his fauns, making gestures like Silenus?
He went with his wreath of laurel, his lyre, his proud poet’s mien, erect and radiant.
He came to where the wild and hairy satyr ruled, and at his request for hospitality, he sang. He sang of great Jove, of Eros and Aphrodite, of the graceful centaurs and of the ardent bacchantes; he sang the cup of Dionysus, and the thyrsus that strikes the joyous air, and of Pan, emperor of the mountains, sovereign of the woods, god-satyr who, too, could sing. He sang the intimacies of the air and earth, the great mother.
Thus he expounded the melody of andSolian harp, the murmu
He was a capricious satyr.
He had two court counselors: a lark and an ass. The first had lost her prestige when the satyr went deaf. Formerly, when, weary with lust, he softly played his flute, the lark accompanied him.
Afterward, in his great forest, where he could not hear even the voice of Olympian thunder, the patient animal of the long ears served him as mount, while the lark, at break of dawn, flew out of his hands, singing on her flight to the skies.
The forest was vast. To the lark belonged the tree-tops; to the ass, the pasture. The lark was greeted by the first gleams of dawn; she drank dew in the shoots; she awoke the oak, singing to it, “Old oak, awake.” She rejoice ‘ in a kiss from the sun; she was beloved by the morning star.
And the blue firmament so vast knew that she, so tiny, dwelt beneath its immensity. The ass (though he had not yet conversed with Kant) was an expert in philosophy, according to common report. The
Ruben Dario (1867-1916)
Ruben Dario is one of the few Spanish-American writers who have won international celebrity. He first became known as a boy poet, but soon after his sensational appearance in the field of literature, he became a journalist. His travels began at an early age. He was in the diplomatic service and represented his country in several cities abroad.
Of a rather melancholy and neurotic temperament, he had none the less an extremely varied and active career, and in spite of his diplomatic and other duties he continued to write. Though he is best known as a poet, he is the author of several short stories and books of travel. His volume of prose tales and poems called Azul (1888) attracted notice in Europe. It is from this collection that The Deaf Satyr is selected. This charming idyll exemplifies Dario’s outstanding qualities of style and literary form.
The present version is translated by Isaac Goldberg especia