Now as he went, with fading hope, to seek
The third and last to whom God bade him speak,
Scarce twenty steps away whom should he meet
But Fermor, hurrying cheerful down the street,
With ready heart that faced his work like play,
And joyed to find it greater every day!
The angel stopped him with uplifted hand,
And gave without delay his Lord’s command:
“He whom thou servest here would have thee go
Alone to Spiran’s huts, across the snow,
To serve Him there.” Ere Asmiel breathed again
The eager answer leaped to meet him, “When?”
The angel’s face with inward joy
And all his figure glowed with heavenly light;
He took the golden circlet from his brow
And gave the crown to Fermor, answering, “Now!
For thou hast met the Master’s hidden test,
And I have found the man who loves Him best.
Not thine, nor mine, to question or reply
When He commands us, asking ‘how?’ or ‘why?’
He knows the cause; His ways are wise and just;
Who serves the King must serve with perfect trust.”
Long ago Apollo called to Aristaeus, youngest
of the shepherds,
Saying, “I will make you keeper of my bees.”
Golden were the hives and golden was the honey; golden, too, the music
Where the honey-makers hummed among the trees.
Happy Aristaeus loitered in the garden,
wandered in the orchard,
Careless and contented, indolent and free;
Lightly took his labour, lightly took his pleasure, till the fated moment
When across his pathway came Eurydice.
Then her eyes enkindled burning love
within him; drove him wild with
For the perfect sweetness of her flower-like face;
Eagerly he followed, while she fled before him, over mead and mountain,
On through field and forest, in a breathless race.
But the nymph, in flying, trod upon
a serpent; like a dream she vanished;
Pluto’s chariot bore her down among the dead!
Lonely Aristaeus, sadly home returning, found his garden empty,
All the hives deserted, all the music fled.
my honey-makers, where have you departed?”
Far and wide he sought them over sea and shore;
Foolish is the tale that says he ever found them, brought them home in
Joys that once escape us fly for evermore.
Yet I dream that somewhere, clad
in downy whiteness, dwell the
In aerial gardens that no mortal sees:
And at times returning, lo, they flutter round us, gathering mystic
So I weave the legend of the long-lost bees.
THE SWARMING OF THE BEES