“Do you like the Greek stories, Sweetheart?”
“The myths?”
“The stories? myths? Perhaps myths. Perhaps truth with a little fiction for excitement. After all life in a Greek village must have been pretty unexciting most of the time. I will tell you one.”

Some sparks dove to earth together and fell to two mothers living not many miles apart.
One was a fisherman’s wife and their child was a girl named Galatea. As lovely as the sun on the sea, and bright and lively as the sea on a beautiful day. She loved the bay below the cliff and I think that the bay loved her for they were as natural together as lovers. The girl was just a toddling thing when her mother first took her into its gentle surf and touched the child’s toes to the water and to the sand that ran out under them with each retreat of the tiny little waves. The little girl laughed and fell and ran about under the watch of her mother and very soon … in fact that very summer … she began to swim, and then to dive off the small rocks that stood up thereabouts as though they too loved to feel the waves’ embrace.
“The other spark fell to a pregnant lass in a fine hut of dried clay and woven grass. This hut was inland from the bay where the salt air did not penetrate unduly and was on a meadow not far from the woods. The meadow was all green grass, with a vegetable patch, and many grazing sheep; for the mother’s husband was rich in sheep and cattle and had herdsmen to watch over them.
“Their child was a boy whom they named Polyphemus to be brought up strong and holy, not in the work of his father, but in the godly work of heating and hammering bronze, for tools, and drinking vessels for the feasts; and forming and tempering the precious iron that foreign traders brought across the sea into swords and axes for war. He would be a smith and all that he would make must be as beautiful as it was useful or the god would not be pleased.
One day the father took his son from his mother and bouncing him on a sturdy arm brought the child to the village hearth. The holy smith tied a leather patch just like his own across the boy’s left eye and sat him near the fire that swelled and flamed. Another, older, lad, worked the bellows. The day was hot already and the fire roared at the little group. Soon all four were besmirched with soot and ran with stinking sweat. Though careful for their eyes and loins, they could not wear much else because of the heat of the furnace and the heat of the day. Therefore they suffered from the many tiny bits of glowing metal that flew at them with each blow of the smith’s hammer.
Yet the child did not cry that whole first morning and his father and the smith marveled at his attention. When later his mother came to bring the boy to home he danced his way there and begged to return and help to form the metal.
As he grew Polyphemus became strong and skilled and the works of his hands would soon match and then surpass those of the senior smith. But the life of a smith, though greatly honored, was not easy and though the things that come from his hands be beautiful, often he himself was not. The lad grew strong but the sparks pocked his face. Then one day when hardly more than a boy the god took his unprotected eye.
He never gave up the forge entire though two brothers now took the greater part of the work that he need not risk his one good eye. Instead he spent more time with the herds that he’d inherited when the rich shepherd died. On those days that he did work the forge he began to think longer on each piece he fashioned, praying over the hot and malleable metal trying to see in his mind’s eye the future of the thing. What he saw was not always good for anger and hate covet tools to do their work. But other visions were good, bright broaches on healthy maidens’ breasts and rings to bind the harness of strong oxen at the plow.
On one of those days when the young smith did not work at the forge at all but went, instead, to sit where his sheep and cattle lay, he began to wonder: Is there more than this. I have fine herds and my hands make things that are both strong and beautiful. Five fathers would give their daughters to me for my wealth though I am ugly. I am needed by all. Yet is there more?
There is the sea on which sailors sail, and lands far off where other smiths labor at their fires making things that may be stronger and more beautiful than my own.
He left the animals to his herdsmen and walked to the beach where fishermen’s boats lay pulled up upon it. Many carried some large or small work of his hands, rings to tie ropes to, hooks, and grates. Some sailors called to him and one drew out and waved a long knife at its maker. The smith remembered it; a fine blade and hilt, wrapped with hide and with a dancing dolphin incised upon the pommel. Such art required quick and even work with an awl-like tool but it brought him a good price and to the sailor pride in ownership. A fair trade.
Then he saw a girl and knew her to be the child of the bay whom he had not seen in more than a year. She came running down the sand from beyond the rocks that marked the harbor’s end. It was perhaps five full minutes before she was close but the smith did not need to discern her face to know the girl was grown lovely and blessed by some god, for as she trotted bare footed and horse-like beside the bay her lashing limbs flung the skirt of her tunic this way and that, while her bosom bounced heavily under the bodice.
Soon the lass drew nearly close enough for Polyphemus to read her face but instead he turned away, seemingly more interested in some detail of the nearest boat than in the beautiful thing that danced the sand and sometimes ran nearly to the surf where she could feel the cool ooze of wet sand under her feet. They’re pretty feet. I know they are. But when I can read her features, so she will mine. The young master of the hearth, who created things of might and beauty and held a thousand cattle his, hid his ugliness and cried a bit inside; then forced his thoughts to matters of work. A sword, Thesius wants a sword. He’ll have a sword; the heaviest and greatest blade I’ve made; all new iron with silver-incised words of hate. Yes, words of hate…No pretense of god wisdom, or the gallantry of heroes. No poetry. He wants a great sword with which to work, not a court-blade. No curled fittings or coiled and entwined beasts. No, it shall be the largest blade I’ve fashioned but simple and ugly with only words of hate upon it.
The young smith looked up again. The girl had passed and was some meters down the beach. That horse’s legs still splaying, and it’s hind quarters bouncing left and right and up and down beneath the white tunic that fluttered over them.
Her feet were pretty.

‘O Galatea, light and fair, why cast my love away?
Sleeker than is the grape unripe, and whiter than the whey,
And gentle as a lamb thou art, yet calf-like, full of play….

Dear maid, I loved thee from the hour
Thou camest with my mother to the hill,
And I did show thee hyacinths in flower;
And I have never ceased to love thee still.
And ne’er shall cease, e’en though I had the power —
But this affects thee not — and never will.

I know, O gracious maiden, why thou dost shun my sight;
It is because one shaggy brow o’erspans my forehead quite;
From this unto the other ear in one long line it goes,
And but one eye is set beneath, and flatly droops my nose.
Yet even I, such as I am, a thousand cattle herd,
And from these do I drink and drain the best of milk and curd…

For thee I’ll rear eleven fawns adorned with collars fair,
And keep four sprawling cubs for thee, whelps of the clumsy bear.

Come with me, and thou shalt find thy pleasures all the more;
Leave thou the billows bright to die a-quiver on the shore!
Come with thy love within my cave and cheer its loneliness;
Thy curtains shall be laurel and slender cypresses
Festooned with ivy dark and vines with clusters richly hung;
There is cool water, down the slopes of wooded Aetna flung,
Poured from the beaker of her snows, a drink divine to me!
Ah, who would choose in place of these the billows of the sea?

But if my shagginess offends, an oak-wood fire I keep
Within whose ashes smoldering glow embers that never sleep.
Come, burn unto my very heart within my hairy breast,
Yea, burn my single eye away, dearer than all the rest!

Ah me, that mother bore me, a funny thing, to glide
Down unto thee to kiss thy hand, if thou thy lips denied.
To thy white hand white lilies would I bring, or soft and red
As are thy dainty lips, the petalled charms that poppies shed –
Nay, these are the harvest and those of early spring,
And e’en impetuous love could not their blooms a-blended bring!

Yea, maiden, if some mariner hither his prow should turn,
Now, here and now, by help of him, right gladly would I learn
To swim within the ocean depths, that I myself might see
Thy dwelling place, and know how dear its pleasures are to thee.

At evening, many maidens gay,
To me to join their night-long pastimes call,
And if I answer, gladly giggle all.
On land, at least, I’m someone, anyway.

“Where did you learn that Dear, and when?”
“The poem is an old one by Theocritus. He thought that Polyphemus was a Cyclops. That’s the myth. He wasn’t a Cyclops and he wasn’t a myth.”
“But did he ‘get the girl’?”
“Yes. God liked his poem … his plea.”
“And did he learn to swim and enjoy the sea?”
“Yes. He did that for her…They were happy together for many years. I don’t know how I know these things, but they’re so. That I’m sure of as I’m sure of my own self.”