When Pan was born his mother could not bear the sight of the child. In her arms she held to her a deformed baby. His head and torso were human with a slight slant upward in his eyes. Sharp pointed ears grew outward through strands of dark curly hair. Horns designed in the shape of a mountain goat grew from his head. To his mother's disgust, her son's legs were as hairy as a wild boar and feet matching the blue print of a horse. She declared the boy appalling and in the dead of night she deserted Pan deep in the heart of the woods.
The deciding vote of the Goddess and God themselves spared his life. While growing he roamed finding the perfect environment designed for him to prosper. He took advantage of all the world had to offer with sheer abandonment. In Arcadia amongst the Grecian hills Pan sat high in the shady cypress tree as a watchman that spent his days and nights guarding lonely shepherds and their lambs.
During the festival celebrations he charmed with boyish enthusiasm seducing and bedding maiden satyrs and young nymphs. Pan left behind many broken hearts. He abandoned all his conquests with an empty memory and single mothers to raise his unwanted children. He had a reputation for rushing into the lives of several demure nymphs who guarded the woods, flowers, trees and water. In each situation Pan brought newness, an enthusiastic urgency to declare the union in oneness.
The mountain nymph Sytrinx attracted Pan with her innocence, her shy and
demure nature. While in hot pursuit the young nymph swiftly flew around the
trees and bushes. She darted over the jagged rocks gliding down the riverbank till she disappeared forming herself into one of the tall swaying reeds. Pan searched then became bored. He cut several of the hollow stems in different lengths and then bound them together with twine. A sweet sound was released as he blew air above the open holes. Some say the song was a tenser as the nymph herself.
by Elizabeth Barrette Browning
What was he doing, the great god, Pan
Down in the reeds by the river?
Spreading ruin and cattering ban,
Splashing and paddling with hoofs of a goat,
And breaking the golden lilies afloat
With the dragon-fly on the river.
He tore out a reed, the great god, Pan.
From the deep cool bed of the river.
The limpid water turbidy ran,
And the broken Lilies a-dying lay,
And the dragon-fly had fled away,
Ere he brought it out of the river.
High on the shore sat the great god, Pan,
While turbidly flowed the river;
And hacked and hewed as a great god can,
With his hard bleak steel at the patient reed,
Till there was not a sign of loaf indeed
To prove it fresh from the river.
He cut it short, did the great god, Pan,
(How tall it stood in the river!)
"The only way, since gods began
To make sweet music, they could succeed."
Then, dropping his mouth to a hole in the reed, He blew in power by the
Sweet, sweet, sweet, O Pan!
Piercing sweet by the river;
Blinding sweet, O great god Pan!
The sun on the hill forgot to die,
And the lilies revised, and the dragon-fly
Came back to dream by the river.
Yet half a beast is the great god, Pan.
To laugh as he sits by the river,
Making a poet out of man:
The true gods sign for the cost of pain-
For the reed which grows nevermore again
As a red with the reeds in
The late Paul Bura poet reads A musical Instrument by Elizabeth Barrett