Echo And Narcissus
A Stories Aloud original story about the myth.
Many, many years ago in the ancient world, a beautiful boy was born. His mother called him Narcissus. There was a prophecy about this boy–that he would always be happy as long as he never saw himself. Well, his mother thought this was a silly prophecy and she soon forgot all about it.
Narcissus grew up to be a strong, handsome young man. He had long, powerful legs, strapping arms and beautiful shining eyes. All the women loved him and wanted to be his wife. But Narcissus was not interested in falling in love or getting married. In fact, he wanted to be left alone! He loved to walk through the woodlands and meadows by himself.
Now it happened that in the same woodland lived a nymph called Echo. She was beautiful and used to live with her Goddess and other nymphs. But she would always say nasty things and would get others to do naughty things, so she was sent by her Goddess to live in the woods. She would no longer be able to speak her own words, but only those of others. She was only allowed to repeat what others said.
One day, Narcissus came wandering through the forest. Echo had never seen such a handsome man. She hid behind a tree and gazed at his lovely face and she fell in love with him. She wanted to tell him of her love, so she followed him and called out. But of course, she no longer had a voice of her own. She would have to wait for him to speak before she could repeat it.
Narcissus had no idea that Echo was following him. But then, he heard a snap of a branch. He spun round and called out,
“Is there any one here?”
And Echo answered softly,
“ … here!”
Narcissus, amazed, looking about on all sides and, seeing no one, cried,
And Echo answered,
“ … come!”
Narcissus cried again:
“Who are you? Whom seek you?”
And Echo answered,
“ … you!”
Then rushing from among the trees she tried to throw her arms around his neck, but Narcissus fled through the forest, crying:
“Away! Away! I would die before I love you!”
And Echo answered mournfully,
“ .. .I love you! ”
And so, feeling rather upset, she hid among the trees and cried. Her suffering was so bad that she didn’t move from that spot, until she faded away completely. Her body disappeared and nothing but her voice was left.
And some say that even to this day her voice lives in caves and answers men’s words from far away.
Now, Narcissus ran as fast as he could through the forest. He didn’t want to love anyone; he wanted to be left alone. Once he was sure that Echo was gone, he slowed down and came to a clear spring. It was beautiful and clean and, tired from his journey, he sat down to rest.
Feeling a little bit thirsty, he decided to drink from the spring. So he knelt beside it and leaned over. As he did this, he noticed his own reflection. The water was so clear that it was almost like a mirror.
Now Narcissus had never seen himself before and did not realise that the reflection was actually him! He thought he was looking at another person! He gazed at the two shining eyes, the rosy cheeks, the curly hair, the perfect mouth and thought how beautiful they looked. And for the first time in his life, he felt himself falling in love!
He was so overwhelmed by this feeling, that he thrust his arms into the water and tried to hold the person he saw. But each time he did, it disappeared. He tried to kiss the person, but all he kissed was water. And all day and all night, lying there without food or drink, he continued to gaze into the water.
After many days of suffering, he stood up and called out:
“Oh woods, there can’t ever have been a person who felt pain like this! When the one you love, loves you not!”
He leaned over the stream again and talked to the one he loved so much.
“When I smile at you, you smile back. When I weep, you weep. When I hold my arms out, so do you. But when I try to hold you, you are gone. And I feel I shall die soon. But death must hurt less than this, so I am not scared to die.”
So, Narcissus stayed by the stream. And often he would sigh and say,
And the sorrowful Echo would sigh too
With his last breath, he looked into the water and whispered
“Ah, my love, farewell.”
And Echo whispered too,
Narcissus’ body was never found. It had vanished away and where it had been was a little flower. Such a beautiful flower, with silver leaves and a golden heart. And so there, in the woodland, grew the first ever Narcissus.