Hermes, how swift your feet
That ran the sacred race
That leapt the bonds
Race across the three spaces
And your mother’s veil fluttered to the earth
From the day your infant legs
Stretched eagerly from her lap.
Champion of the game
You handle with such artful mastery
The polished pieces of the contest
And how agile you bend
To carry off the fruit of your victory.
How you laughed and spun the turtle shell,
Turned it about between your palms,
And death’s remains became your song
Your transformation at your nimble hands
To set the seven oxen-born strings
The bold gift for Apollon,
For the twin-serpent kerykeion.
Swift herald, counselor and guide
There the numerous herds align
To the direction of your golden staff,
You carry the calf with bright hocks
Within the crook of your arm
And the wide-horned bull bellows to the cow
As they travel along the road.
Here you watch the living upon their paths
As we go and return
As each life plays the sacred game
As each runs the race toward the end
There you are, holding our hand.