The Lyre which Hermes fashioned with his skill,
He gave Apollo for to work his will;
He stole the oxen of the Sun by sleight
And robbed him while the earth was cloaked in Night,
And Phoebus’ rage was kindled like a fire,
And so he sought to hurl him in his ire
Into the depths of Tartarus below,
But could not stem the cunning words that flow
From Hermes’ lips, whose speech is without peer,
As he so wills, it is obscure or clear,
And like a labyrinth do they twist and turn:
The cunning only manage to discern
His meaning. Such was Zeus, who can’t be fooled,
Whose strength of mind cannot be overruled.
For Hermes spoke, and winked upon his sire,
Who laughed and loved his begotten liar.
And Hermes played a most enchanting song
And charmed Apollo’s heart with it ere long.
The gods now friends, they each exchanged a gift,
And by this act they healed their former rift.
For Hermes gave his Lyre unto the Sun,
To play each day while his fierce coursers run,
And for the herd with which he did abscond,
Apollo forgave him, and gave him a wand.
And Hermes parted serpents when they fought,
And made a peace where danger had been fraught.
In time, the Sun gave Orpheus the Lyre,
And taught him how to man and beasts inspire;
The poet praised th’eternal gods with song,
But he forgot one god and did him wrong;
For Dionysus did he fail to praise,
And so the Bacchants made an end of days
For him, and torn to pieces did his head
Roll down into the sea when he was dead.
The Muses placed his Lyre up in the sky,
That memory of him might never die.

Hermes II

Hermes, cunning, the trickster god supreme,
Making suppositions, serpentine, to seem
As truth, and traveling to the underworld,
The knowledge cloaked in darkness is unfurled.
You pierce illusions, friend to man, and guide
To esoteric secrets, which you hide
From souls unworthy of the sacred arts,
But showering guile on deserving hearts.
By this are riches, seen and unseen, won.
Your skill with words sees stories charming spun.
Your sandals speeding through the Aether bright,
To Earth descending from Olympus’ height,
You herald all that Zeus would bid you say,
But many secrets still you store away.
Through traps guide all suppliants who embark
Into the underworld: steer them through the dark.


How Hermes the herald hearkens with haste;
How before Zeus he is humble and chaste,
He is his messenger, at his command,
To serve and to sit at heaven’s king’s hand.
But who are his foes, take heed and beware!
From rapine, from theft, of such he won’t spare.
For even Apollo, he tricked and deceived;
Apollo was wroth, and his soul was grieved:
His oxen were missing, and some were dead,
And Hermes the thief had speedily fled;
He found him and railed, threatening to destroy
The newborn Hermes, who was Maia’s boy:
But Hermes with words, both skillful and smooth,
And with a gift, the same Phoebus did soothe;
The lute he had fashioned, he gave to the sun,
After his tale, like a spider, he’d spun.
He fathered a son named Autolycus;
From him was descended Odysseus:
From Hermes he got his cunning and wit,
And so many bold tricks did he commit;
He never spoke truth to his enemies,
And only himself did he seek to please.
Also, like Hermes, he was changeable
(In this he was truly commendable);
When Ajax had slain the flocks and the herds,
Bewailing his state with lamentable words,
Odysseus marked him as his enemy:
But after Ajax had set himself free
From all of life’s toils by a sword in his breast,
Then Odysseus put hatred to rest;
Persuaded he Agamemnon to let
The body be buried – without regret,
He turned and was merciful, that some day
When he was dead, he’d be interred the same way.
And this polarity, Hermes possesses;
For change, to the god, never distresses;
He travels with ease, with fleetness of foot,
From heaven’s height to the underworld’s root;
For Hermes conducts the dead to the same
(All mortals go thence, no matter their fame);
He came from the deep; he was born in a cave:
No wonder that he conducts man to the grave.
One finds him in commerce, the province of thieves,
Which often, unchecked, devours and bereaves.
Who can understand all of Hermes’ ways?
The same shall, in wisdom, prolong his days.