Endymion

courtesy of online-mythology.com:

Endymion was a beautiful youth who fed his flock on Mount Latmos.

One calm, clear night, Diana, the Moon, looked down and saw him

sleeping. The cold heart of the virgin goddess was warmed by his

surpassing beauty, and she came down to him, kissed him, and

watched over him while he slept.

Another story was that Jupiter bestowed on him the gift of

perpetual youth united with perpetual sleep. Of one so gifted we

can have but few adventures to record. Diana, it was said, took

care that his fortunes should not suffer by his inactive life,

for she made his flock increase, and guarded his sheep and lambs

from the wild beasts.

The story of Endymion has a peculiar charm from the human meaning

which it so thinly veils. We see in Endymion the young poet, his

fancy and his heart seeking in vain for that which can satisfy

them, finding his favorite hour in the quiet moonlight, and

nursing there beneath the beams of the bright and silent witness

the melancholy and the ardor which consumes him. The story

suggests aspiring and poetic love, a life spent more in dreams

than in reality, and an early and welcome death.

S. G. Bulfinch

The Endymion of Keats is a wild and fanciful poem, containing

some exquisite poetry, as this, to the moon:

‘The sleeping kine

Couched in thy brightness dream of fields divine.

Innumerable mountains rise, and rise,

Ambitious for the hallowing of thine eyes,

And yet thy benediction passeth not

One obscure hiding place, one little spot

Where pleasure may be sent; the nested wren

Has thy fair face within its tranquil ken.’

Dr. Young in the Night Thoughts alludes to Endymion thus:

‘These thoughts, O Night, are thine;

>From thee they came like lovers’ secret sighs,

While others slept. So Cynthia, poets feign,

In shadows veiled, soft, sliding from her sphere,

Her shepherd cheered, of her enamored less

Than I of thee.’

Fletcher, in the Faithful Shepherdess, tells,

‘How the pale Phoebe, hunting in a grove,

First saw the boy Endymion, from whose eyes

She took eternal fire that never dies;

How she conveyed him softly in a sleep,

His temples bound with poppy, to the steep

Head of Old Latmos, where she stoops each night,

Gilding the mountain with her brother’s light,

To kiss her sweetest.'”