After reading and re-reading the “Et in Arcadia Ego” section of Brideshead Revisited, spending many a sunlit day with my friend the Mead, and pondering what are the halcyon days of life, I took a bit more interest in the story of Ceyx and Alcyone. Then I read “O! Happy Mariners” and was catalyzed into writing.
Oft have I wished to be a bird, to fly aloft on silent wing
and lying flat and far below the silver rivers shimmering
How often have the miles waxed wide, the woods and mountains come between
to sunder me from earthly joy, to hinder what delights had been.
And I have coveted that life, which seems from sorrow ever free
where full of grace the wings do glide upon the wind that sweeps the sea.
When naught but care surrounds my head, I would that I might swoop away
with all my cries flung to the clouds while I fly on at break of day.
Forgetting, when I mourn my plight, that birds might not be free of woe,
For what know I of how they feel in quest of food, or flight from foe?
What dangers face them in the sky, where far from earth they might not rest,
Or when the blasting tempests blow, and all their shelter is a nest?
Then do I think on Halcyone, whose husband fell into the deep,
who never knew enough to mourn till Morpheus gave her word in sleep.
Though they live on as kingfishers, whose nest is laid upon the sea,
The quiet lasts them but a week ere Aeolus sets the north wind free.
So though they name that quiet time, there at the twilight of the year,
I envy not their winged state, and reck them not as free from fear,
But through the seasons four shall on kingfisher days stake out my claim
and give those placid golden days of all delight my own good name.