(FOUNDED ON A NEW ZEALAND MYTH.)
In the Morning of Time, when his fortunes began,
How bleak, how un-Greek, was the Nature of Man!
From his wigwam, if ever he ventured to roam,
There was nobody waiting to welcome him home;
For the Man had been made, but the woman had NOT,
And Earth was a highly detestable spot.
Man hated his neighbours; they met and they scowled,
They did not converse but they struggled and howled,
For Man had no tact–he would ne’er take a hint,
And his notions he backed with a hatchet of flint.
So Man was alone, and he wished he could see
On the Earth some one like him, but fairer than he,
With locks like the red gold, a smile like the sun,
To welcome him back when his hunting was done.
And he sighed for a voice that should answer him still,
Like the affable Echo he heard on the hill:
That should answer him softly and always agree,
AND OH, Man reflected, HOW NICE IT WOULD BE!
So he prayed to the Gods, and they stooped to his prayer,
And they spoke to the Sun on his way through the air,
And he married the Echo one fortunate morn,
And Woman, their beautiful daughter, was born!
The daughter of Sunshine and Echo she came
With a voice like a song, with a face like a flame;
With a face like a flame, and a voice like a song,
And happy was Man, but it was not for long!
For weather’s a painfully changeable thing,
Not always the child of the Echo would sing;
And the face of the Sun may be hidden with mist,
And his child can be terribly cross if she list.
And unfortunate Man had to learn with surprise
That a frown’s not peculiar to masculine eyes;
That the sweetest of voices can scold and can sneer,
And cannot be answered–like men–with a spear.
So Man went and called to the Gods in his woe,
And they answered him–“Sir, you would needs have it so:
And the thing must go on as the thing has begun,
She’s immortal–your child of the Echo and Sun.
But we’ll send you another, and fairer is she,
This maiden with locks that are flowing and free.
This maiden so gentle, so kind, and so fair,
With a flower like a star in the night of her hair.
With her eyes like the smoke that is misty and blue,
With her heart that is heavenly, and tender, and true.
She will die in the night, but no need you should mourn,
You shall bury her body and thence shall be born
A weed that is green, that is fragrant and fair,
With a flower like the star in the night of her hair.
And the leaves must ye burn till they offer to you
Soft smoke, like her eyes that are misty and blue.
“And the smoke shall ye breathe and no more shall ye fret,
But the child of the Echo and Sun shall forget:
Shall forget all the trouble and torment she brings,
Shall bethink ye of none but delectable things;
And the sound of the wars with your brethren shall cease,
While ye smoke by the camp-fire the great pipe of peace.”
So the last state of Man was by no means the worst,
The second gift softened the sting of the first.
Nor the child of the Echo and Sun doth he heed
When he dreams with the Maid that was changed to the weed;
Though the Echo be silent, the Sun in a mist,
The Maid is the fairest that ever was kissed.
And when tempests are over and ended the rain,
And the child of the Sunshine is sunny again,
He comes back, glad at heart, and again is at one
With the changeable child of the Echo and Sun.
Other Poems by Andrew Lang