And sought a little stream, which well he knew, For oftentimes with boyish careless shout The green and crested grebe he would pursue, Or snare in woven net the silver trout, And down amid the startled reeds he lay Panting in breathless sweet affright, and waited for the day.
On the green bank he lay, and let one hand Dip in the cool dark eddies listlessly, And soon the breath of morning came and fanned His hot flushed cheeks, or lifted wantonly The tangled curls from off his forehead, while He on the running water gazed with strange and secret smile.
And soon the shepherd in rough woollen cloak With his long crook undid the wattled cotes, And from the stack a thin blue wreath of smoke Curled through the air across the ripening oats, And on the hill the yellow house-dog bayed As through the crisp and rustling fern the heavy cattle strayed.
And when the light-foot mower went afield Across the meadows laced with threaded dew, And the sheep bleated on the misty weald, And from its nest the waking corncrake flew, Some woodmen saw him lying by the stream And marvelled much that any lad so beautiful could seem,
Nor deemed him born of mortals, and one said, 'It is young Hylas, that false runaway Who with a Naiad now would make his bed Forgetting Herakles,' but others, 'Nay, It is Narcissus, his own paramour, Those are the fond and crimson lips no woman can allure.'
And when they nearer came a third one cried, 'It is young Dionysos who has hid His spear and fawnskin by the river side Weary of hunting with the Bassarid, And wise indeed were we away to fly: They live not long who on the gods immortal come to spy.'
So turned they back, and feared to look behind, And told the timid swain how they had seen Amid the reeds some woodland god reclined, And no man dared to cross the open green, And on that day no olive-tree was slain, Nor rushes cut, but all deserted was the fair domain,
Save when the neat-herd's lad, his empty pail Well slung upon his back, with leap and bound Raced on the other side, and stopped to hail, Hoping that he some comrade new had found, And gat no answer, and then half afraid Passed on his simple way, or down the still and silent glade