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Anna Kingsford-‘Hymn To Hermes’

Engraving by Hendrick Goltzius, (artist), Dutch, 1558 – 1617.

After a painting by Polidoro da Caravaggio, Lombard, c. 1499 – 1543.

(This print is part of a series of eight prints of classical gods, based on paintings by Polidoro da Caravaggio on the facade of a Roman house, seen and copied by Goltzius in Rome.)


  1. ‘A moving light between heaven and earth; as a white cloud assuming many shapes;
  2. He descends and rises, he guides and illumines, he transmutes himself from small to great, from bright to shadowy, from the opaque image to the diaphanous mist.
  3. Star of the East conducting the Magi; cloud from whose midst the holy voice speaketh; by day a pillar of vapour, by night a shining flame.
  4. I behold thee, Hermes, Son of God, slayer of Argus, archangel, who bearest the rod of knowledge, by which all things in heaven or on earth are measured.
  5. Double serpents entwine it, because as serpents they must be wise who desire God.
  6. And upon thy feet are living wings, bearing thee feerless through space and over the abyss of darkness; because they must be without dread to dare the void and the deep, who desire to attain and to achieve.
  7. Upon thy side thou wearest a sword of a single stone, two edged, whose temper resisteth all things.
  8. For they who would slay or save must be armed with a strong and perfect will, defying and penetrating with no uncertain force.
  9. This is Herpe, the sword which destroyeth demons; by whose aid the hero overcometh, and the saviour is able to deliver.
  10. Except thou bind it upon thy thigh thou shalt be overborne, and blades of mortal making shall vail against thee.
  11. Nor this all thine equipment, Son of God; the covering of darkness is upon thine head, and none is able to strike thee.
  12. This is the magic hat, brought from Hades, the region of silence, where they are who speak not.
  13. He who bears the world on his shoulders shall give it to thee, lest the world fall on thee, and thou be ground into powder.
  14. For he who has perfect wisdom and knowledge, he whose steps are without fear, and whose will is single and all pervading;
  15. Even he must also know how to keep the divine secrets, and not to expose the holy mysteries of God to the senses of the wicked.
  16. Keep a bridle upon thy lips, and cover thys head in the way of battle.
  17. These are the four excellent things,-the rod, the wings, the sword, and the hat.
  18. Knowledge, with thou must gain with labour: the spirit of holy boldness, which cometh by faith in God; a mighty will, and a complete discretion.
  19. He who discovers (uncover, discloses) the holy mysteries is lost.
  20. Go thy way in silence, and see thou tell no man.’
Jean-Baptiste Pigalle, Mercure



From Anna Kingsford‘s

‘Clothed with the Sun’,

page 236 / 237

More about Anna Kingsford:
Anna Kingsford-‘Hymn To Hermes’

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