The Age of Fable eBook

Thomas Bulfinch
This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 1,207 pages of information about The Age of Fable.

There was built out from the shore a mole, constructed to break the assaults of the sea, and stem its violent ingress.  She leaped upon this barrier and (it was wonderful she could do so) she flew, and striking the air with wings produced on the instant, skimmed along the surface of the water, an unhappy bird.  As she flew, her throat poured forth sounds full of grief, and like the voice of one lamenting.  When she touched the mute and bloodless body, she enfolded its beloved limbs with her new-formed wings, and tried to give kisses with her horny beak.  Whether Ceyx felt it, or whether it was only the action of the waves, those who looked on doubted, but the body seemed to raise its head.  But indeed he did feel it, and by the pitying gods both of them were changed into birds.  They mate and have their young ones.  For seven placid days, in winter time, Halcyone broods over her nest, which floats upon the sea.  Then the way is safe to seamen.  Aeolus guards the winds and keeps them from disturbing the deep.  The sea is given up, for the time, to his grandchildren.

The following lines from Byron’s “Bride of Abydos” might seem borrowed from the concluding part of this description, if it were not stated that the author derived the suggestion from observing the motion of a floating corpse: 

    “As shaken on his restless pillow,
     His head heaves with the heaving billow,
     That hand, whose motion is not life,
     Yet feebly seems to menace strife,
     Flung by the tossing tide on high,
     Then levelled with the wave ...”

Milton in his “Hymn on the Nativity,” thus alludes to the fable of the Halcyon: 

    “But peaceful was the night
     Wherein the Prince of light
       His reign of peace upon the earth began;
     The winds with wonder whist
     Smoothly the waters kist
       Whispering new joys to the mild ocean,
     Who now hath quite forgot to rave
     While birds of calm sit brooding on the charmed wave.”

Keats, also, in “Endymion,” says: 

    “O magic sleep!  O comfortable bird
     That broodest o’er the troubled sea of the mind
     Till it is hushed and smooth.”



The Hamadryads were Wood-nymphs.  Pomona was of this class, and no one excelled her in love of the garden and the culture of fruit.  She cared not for orests and rivers, but loved the cultivated country, and trees that bear delicious apples.  Her right hand bore for its weapon not a javelin, but a pruning-knife.  Armed with this, she busied herself at one time to repress the too luxuriant growths, and curtail the branches that straggled out of place; at another, to split the twig and insert therein a graft, making the branch adopt a nursling not its own.  She took care, too, that her favorites should not suffer from drought, and led streams of water by them, that

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The Age of Fable from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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