From a dense forest of tall dark pinewood, Mount Ida rises like an island.
Within a hidden cave, nymphs had kept a child;
Hermaphroditus, son of gods, so afraid of their love.

As the dawn creeps up the sky
The hunter caught sight of a doe.
In desire for conquest,
He found himself within a glade he'd not beheld before.

"Where are you, my father?
Give wisdom to your son"
Now lost, the boy was guided by the sun"
"Then he could go no farther

And as his strength began to fail
He saw a shimmering lake.
A shadow in the dark green depths
Disturbed the strange tranquility.

"The waters are disturbed
Some creature has been stirred"
"The waters are disturbed
Naiad queen Salmacis has been stirred"

As he rushed to quench his thirst,
A fountain spring appeared before him
And as his heated breath brushed through the cool mist,
A liquid voice called, "Son of gods, drink from my spring".

The water tasted strangely sweet.
Behind him the voice called again.
He turned and saw her, in a cloak of mist alone
And as he gazed, her eyes were filled with the darkness of the lake.

"We shall be one
We shall be joined as one"
"She wanted them as one
Yet he had no desire to be one"

"Away from me cold-blooded woman
Your thirst is not mine"

"Nothing will cause us to part
Hear me, O Gods"

Unearthly calm descended from the sky
And then their flesh and bones were strangely merged
Forever to be joined as one.

The creature crawled into the lake.
A fading voice was heard:
"And I beg, yes I beg that all who touch this spring
May share my fate"

"We are the one
We are the one"
"The two are now made one
Demi-god and nymph are now made one"

Both had given everything they had.
A lover's dream had been fulfilled at last,
Forever still beneath the lake.

Lyrics submitted by Demau Senae

The Fountain of Salmacis Lyrics as written by Peter Gabriel Anthony Banks


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The Fountain Of Salmacis song meanings
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  • +1
    General CommentSalmacis is a mythological figure whose only attestation is in Book IV of Ovid’s Metamorphoses. A nymph from Phrygia, her tale is centered on her unrequited love for the boy demigod Hermaphroditus.

    The Story of Salmacis and Hermaphroditus

    How Salmacis, with weak enfeebling streams
    Softens the body, and unnerves the limbs,
    And what the secret cause, shall here be shown;
    The cause is secret, but th' effect is known.

    The Naids nurst an infant heretofore,
    That Cytherea once to Hermes bore:
    From both th' illustrious authors of his race
    The child was nam'd, nor was it hard to trace
    Both the bright parents thro' the infant's face.
    When fifteen years in Ida's cool retreat
    The boy had told, he left his native seat,
    And sought fresh fountains in a foreign soil:
    The pleasure lessen'd the attending toil,
    With eager steps the Lycian fields he crost,
    A river here he view'd so lovely bright,
    It shew'd the bottom in a fairer light,
    Nor kept a sand conceal'd from human sight.
    The stream produc'd nor slimy ooze, nor weeds,
    Nor miry rushes, nor the spiky reeds;
    But dealt enriching moisture all around,
    The fruitful banks with chearful verdure crown'd,
    And kept the spring eternal on the ground.
    A nymph presides, not practis'd in the chace,
    Nor skilful at the bow, nor at the race;
    Of all the blue-ey'd daughters of the main,
    The only stranger to Diana's train:
    Her sisters often, as 'tis said, wou'd cry,
    "Fie Salmacis: what, always idle! fie.
    Or take thy quiver, or thy arrows seize,
    And mix the toils of hunting with thy ease."
    Nor quiver she nor arrows e'er wou'd seize,
    Nor mix the toils of hunting with her ease.
    But oft would bathe her in the chrystal tide,
    Oft with a comb her dewy locks divide;
    Now in the limpid streams she views her face,
    And drest her image in the floating glass:
    On beds of leaves she now repos'd her limbs,
    Now gather'd flow'rs that grew about her streams,
    And then by chance was gathering, as he stood
    To view the boy, and long'd for what she view'd.

    Fain wou'd she meet the youth with hasty feet,
    She fain wou'd meet him, but refus'd to meet
    Before her looks were set with nicest care,
    And well deserv'd to be reputed fair.
    "Bright youth," she cries, "whom all thy features prove
    A God, and, if a God, the God of love;
    But if a mortal, blest thy nurse's breast,
    Blest are thy parents, and thy sisters blest:
    But oh how blest! how more than blest thy bride,
    Ally'd in bliss, if any yet ally'd.
    If so, let mine the stoln enjoyments be;
    If not, behold a willing bride in me."

    The boy knew nought of love, and toucht with shame,
    He strove, and blusht, but still the blush became:
    In rising blushes still fresh beauties rose;
    The sunny side of fruit such blushes shows,
    And such the moon, when all her silver white
    Turns in eclipses to a ruddy light.
    The nymph still begs, if not a nobler bliss,
    A cold salute at least, a sister's kiss:
    And now prepares to take the lovely boy
    Between her arms. He, innocently coy,
    Replies, "Or leave me to my self alone,
    You rude uncivil nymph, or I'll be gone."
    "Fair stranger then," says she, "it shall be so";
    And, for she fear'd his threats, she feign'd to go:
    But hid within a covert's neighbouring green,
    She kept him still in sight, herself unseen.
    The boy now fancies all the danger o'er,
    And innocently sports about the shore,
    Playful and wanton to the stream he trips,
    And dips his foot, and shivers as he dips.
    The coolness pleas'd him, and with eager haste
    His airy garments on the banks he cast;
    His godlike features, and his heav'nly hue,
    And all his beauties were expos'd to view.
    His naked limbs the nymph with rapture spies,
    While hotter passions in her bosom rise,
    Flush in her cheeks, and sparkle in her eyes.
    She longs, she burns to clasp him in her arms,
    And looks, and sighs, and kindles at his charms.

    Now all undrest upon the banks he stood,
    And clapt his sides, and leapt into the flood:
    His lovely limbs the silver waves divide,
    His limbs appear more lovely through the tide;
    As lillies shut within a chrystal case,
    Receive a glossy lustre from the glass.
    He's mine, he's all my own, the Naid cries,
    And flings off all, and after him she flies.
    And now she fastens on him as he swims,
    And holds him close, and wraps about his limbs.
    The more the boy resisted, and was coy,
    The more she clipt, and kist the strugling boy.
    So when the wrigling snake is snatcht on high
    In Eagle's claws, and hisses in the sky,
    Around the foe his twirling tail he flings,
    And twists her legs, and wriths about her wings.

    The restless boy still obstinately strove
    To free himself, and still refus'd her love.
    Amidst his limbs she kept her limbs intwin'd,
    "And why, coy youth," she cries, "why thus unkind!
    Oh may the Gods thus keep us ever join'd!
    Oh may we never, never part again!"

    So pray'd the nymph, nor did she pray in vain:
    For now she finds him, as his limbs she prest,
    Grow nearer still, and nearer to her breast;
    'Till, piercing each the other's flesh, they run
    Together, and incorporate in one:
    Last in one face are both their faces join'd,
    As when the stock and grafted twig combin'd
    Shoot up the same, and wear a common rind:
    Both bodies in a single body mix,
    A single body with a double sex.

    The boy, thus lost in woman, now survey'd
    The river's guilty stream, and thus he pray'd.
    (He pray'd, but wonder'd at his softer tone,
    Surpriz'd to hear a voice but half his own.)
    You parent-Gods, whose heav'nly names I bear,
    Hear your Hermaphrodite, and grant my pray'r;
    Oh grant, that whomsoe'er these streams contain,
    If man he enter'd, he may rise again
    Supple, unsinew'd, and but half a man!

    The heav'nly parents answer'd from on high,
    Their two-shap'd son, the double votary
    Then gave a secret virtue to the flood,
    And ting'd its source to make his wishes good.

    From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

    Salmacis was an atypical nymph, rejecting the ways of the virginal goddess of the hunt Diana in favor of vanity and idleness. Her attempted rape of Hermaphroditus places her as the only nymph rapist in the Greek mythological canon.

    "There dwelt a Nymph, not up for hunting or archery:
    unfit for footraces. She the only Naiad not in Diana’s band.
    Often her sisters would say: “Pick up a javelin, or
    bristling quiver, and interrupt you leisure for the chase!”
    But she would not pick up a javelin or arrows,
    nor trade leisure for the chase.
    Instead she would bathe her beautiful limbs and tend to her hair, with her
    waters as a mirror."
    Surferdaveon February 12, 2006   Link
  • +1
    General CommentAs mentioned, it is the story of the first hermaphrodite, taken from Greek mythology. As Collins stated in one of the post-Gabriel gigs, 'a hermaphrodite is a person that is a man and a woman at the same time, in the same pair of trousers as it were'. I guess the audiences were a little less worldly-wise back then and needed it expalining.
    proggieon October 30, 2012   Link
  • +1
    Song MeaningThere isn't much to explain about this track beyond what's already in Greek mythology about Hermaphroditus and the the naiad who... well, you can read the lyrics. They are pretty plain about it.
    Anguson February 21, 2014   Link
  • 0
    General CommentThe song is really the tale of the prologue given above the lyrics
    K-nuxXxon June 23, 2005   Link

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