PAN THE FALLEN - Stephen C. Foster Poems


Poems » stephen c. foster » pan the fallen


He wandered into the market
     With pipes and goatish hoof;
He wandered in a grotesque shape,
     And no one stood aloof.
For the children crowded round him,
     The wives and greybeards, too,
To crack their jokes and have their mirth,
     And see what Pan would do.

The Pan he was they knew him,
     Part man, but mostly beast,
Who drank, and lied, and snatched what bones
     Men threw him from their feast;
Who seemed in sin so merry,
     So careless in his woe,
That men despised, scarce pitied him,
     And still would have it so.

He swelled his pipes and thrilled them,
     And drew the silent tear;
He made the gravest clack with mirth
     By his sardonic leer.
He blew his pipes full sweetly
     At their amused demands,
And caught the scornful, earth-flung pence
     That fell from careless hands.

He saw the mob's derision,
     And took it kindly, too,
And when an epithet was flung,
     A coarser back he threw;
But under all the masking
     Of a brute, unseemly part,
I looked, and saw a wounded soul,
     And a god-like, breaking heart.

And back of the elfin music,
     The burlesque, clownish play,
I knew a wail that the weird pipes made,
     A look that was far away,—
A gaze into some far heaven
     Whence a soul had fallen down;
But the mob only saw the grotesque beast
     And the antics of the clown.

For scant-flung pence he paid them
     With mirth and elfin play,
Till, tired for a time of his antics queer,
     They passed and went their way;
Then there in the empty market
     He ate his scanty crust,
And, tired face turned to heaven, down
     He laid him in the dust.

And over his wild, strange features
     A softer light there fell,
And on his worn, earth-driven heart
     A peace ineffable.
And the moon rose over the market,
     But Pan the beast was dead;
While Pan the god lay silent there,
     With his strange, distorted head.

And the people, when they found him,
     Stood still with awesome fear.
No more they saw the beast's rude hoof,
     The furtive, clownish leer;
But the lightest in that audience
     Went silent from the place,
For they knew the look of a god released
     That shone from his dead face.