Lupercal Ode

Dancing Faunus, the woodlands cry aloud!
Each branch in the forest is rustling,
though sky bristles with stationary cloud.
Grosbeak and woodpecker are whistling;
paw-prints leap about in fresh-fallen snow.
Squirrel has been courting his long-hipped mate.
Two hawks glide in rare updrafts together,
insensate to prey, scurrying below:
Their other appetites they seek to sate,
wooing in a window of fair weather.

Dogs romp in snowdrifts deeper than their ears,
yet shake chilliness off with wagging tales
of your masquerades in primeval years
and how your rich-flowing horn never fails
to bring prosperity and wealth to all.
How can we not dance to recall your dream,
of lamb and lion and child playing
beneath the grape clusters ready to fall?
Are these your pipe-reeds rising by the stream,
and is this your music we are hearing?

Awaken us, Pan, to wild nurture—
not the fierce hunter that lurks in our genes,
but gardeners working to plant a future
which steady and love several golden scenes:
feral and lonely deserts and mountains,
woodlands shimmering with life abundant,
and fields rich with august wildflowers.
Greet us with the shock of ageless dolmens;
prophesy from the careening vagrant;
savage us with love of nature’s powers.

A long (long), long time ago, sent me A.C.’s hymn to Pan, and asked me to think about writing one. This is more than a year ago, perhaps two years. I tucked her request into my writing file, and put it in the back of my mind. Two days ago, I realized that Lupercal was one of the feast days I was intending to write this year, and that Lupercal was dedicated to Pan in his aspect as Faunus, the Roman god of wild places and pastoral life. I didn’t find the version sent me until this morning, upon vague remembrance that she’d asked for such a thing.

So. Here is that poem: much delayed, and not actually dedicated, but available at last, nonetheless.

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