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Henry Wadsworth Longfellow (1807–1882). Complete Poetical Works. 1893.

The Masque of Pandora

I. The Workshop of Hephæstus

HEPHÆSTUS (standing before the statue of Pandora).
NOT fashioned out of gold, like Hera’s throne,

Nor forged of iron like the thunderbolts

Of Zeus omnipotent, or other works

Wrought by my hands at Lemnos or Olympus,

But moulded in soft clay, that unresisting

Yields itself to the touch, this lovely form

Before me stands, perfect in every part.

Not Aphrodite’s self appeared more fair,

When first upwafted by caressing winds

She came to high Olympus, and the gods

Paid homage to her beauty. Thus her hair

Was cinctured; thus her floating drapery

Was like a cloud about her, and her face

Was radiant with the sunshine and the sea.

Is thy work done, Hephæstus?

It is finished!

Not finished till I breathe the breath of life

Into her nostrils, and she moves and speaks.

Will she become immortal like ourselves?

The form that thou hast fashioned out of clay

Is of the earth and mortal; but the spirit,

The life, the exhalation of my breath,

Is of diviner essence and immortal.

The gods shall shower on her their benefactions,

She shall possess all gifts: the gift of song,

The gift of eloquence, the gift of beauty,

The fascination and the nameless charm

That shall lead all men captive.

Wherefore? wherefore?

A wind shakes the house.
I hear the rushing of a mighty wind

Through all the halls and chambers of my house!

Her parted lips inhale it, and her bosom

Heaves with the inspiration. As a reed

Beside a river in the rippling current

Bends to and fro, she bows or lifts her head.

She gazes round about as if amazed;

She is alive; she breathes, but yet she speaks not!

PANDORA descends from the pedestal


In the workshop of Hephæstus

What is this I see?

Have the Gods to four increased us

Who were only three?

Beautiful in form and feature,

Lovely as the day,

Can there be so fair a creature

Formed of common clay?

O sweet, pale face! O lovely eyes of azure,

Clear as the waters of a brook that run

Limpid and laughing in the summer sun!

O golden hair, that like a miser’s treasure

In its abundance overflows the measure!

O graceful form, that cloudlike floatest on

With the soft, undulating gait of one

Who moveth as if motion were a pleasure!

By what name shall I call thee? Nymph or Muse,

Callirrhoë or Urania? Some sweet name

Whose every syllable is a caress

Would best befit thee; but I cannot choose,

Nor do I care to choose; for still the same,

Nameless or named, will be thy loveliness.

Dowered with all celestial gifts,

Skilled in every art

That ennobles and uplifts

And delights the heart,

Fair on earth shall be thy fame

As thy face is fair,

And Pandora be the name

Thou henceforth shalt bear.