Part 6 out of 6
hand. A little water was already oozing from under its fingers. I
sprang out, and made haste to fill the grave. Then, utterly
fatigued, I dropped beside it, and fell asleep.
I SLEEP THE SLEEP
When I woke, the ground was moist about me, and my track to the
grave was growing a quicksand. In its ancient course the river was
swelling, and had begun to shove at its burden. Soon it would be
roaring down the precipice, and, divided in its fall, rushing with
one branch to resubmerge the orchard valley, with the other to drown
perhaps the monster horde, and between them to isle the Evil Wood.
I set out at once on my return to those who sent me.
When I came to the precipice, I took my way betwixt the branches,
for I would pass again by the cottage of Mara, lest she should have
returned: I longed to see her once more ere I went to sleep; and
now I knew where to cross the channels, even if the river should
have overtaken me and filled them. But when I reached it, the door
stood open still; the bread and the water were still on the table;
and deep silence was within and around it. I stopped and called
aloud at the door, but no voice replied, and I went my way.
A little farther, I came where sat a grayheaded man on the sand,
"What ails you, sir?" I asked. "Are you forsaken?"
"I weep," he answered, "because they will not let me die. I have
been to the house of death, and its mistress, notwithstanding my
years, refuses me. Intercede for me, sir, if you know her, I pray
"Nay, sir," I replied, "that I cannot; for she refuses none whom it
is lawful for her to receive."
"How know you this of her? You have never sought death! you are
much too young to desire it!"
"I fear your words may indicate that, were you young again, neither
would you desire it."
"Indeed, young sir, I would not! and certain I am that you cannot."
"I may not be old enough to desire to die, but I am young enough to
desire to live indeed! Therefore I go now to learn if she will at
length take me in. You wish to die because you do not care to live:
she will not open her door to you, for no one can die who does not
long to live."
"It ill becomes your youth to mock a friendless old man. Pray,
cease your riddles!"
"Did not then the Mother tell you something of the same sort?"
"In truth I believe she did; but I gave little heed to her excuses."
"Ah, then, sir," I rejoined, "it is but too plain you have not yet
learned to die, and I am heartily grieved for you. Such had I too
been but for the Lady of Sorrow. I am indeed young, but I have wept
many tears; pardon me, therefore, if I presume to offer counsel:--Go
to the Lady of Sorrow, and `take with both hands'* what she will
give you. Yonder lies her cottage. She is not in it now, but her
door stands open, and there is bread and water on her table. Go in;
sit down; eat of the bread; drink of the water; and wait there until
she appear. Then ask counsel of her, for she is true, and her
wisdom is great."
He fell to weeping afresh, and I left him weeping. What I said, I
fear he did not heed. But Mara would find him!
The sun was down, and the moon unrisen, when I reached the abode of
the monsters, but it was still as a stone till I passed over. Then
I heard a noise of many waters, and a great cry behind me, but I
did not turn my head.
Ere I reached the house of death, the cold was bitter and the
darkness dense; and the cold and the darkness were one, and entered
into my bones together. But the candle of Eve, shining from the
window, guided me, and kept both frost and murk from my heart.
The door stood open, and the cottage lay empty. I sat down
And as I sat, there grew in me such a sense of loneliness as never
yet in my wanderings had I felt. Thousands were near me, not one
was with me! True, it was I who was dead, not they; but, whether
by their life or by my death, we were divided! They were alive,
but I was not dead enough even to know them alive: doubt WOULD come.
They were, at best, far from me, and helpers I had none to lay me
Never before had I known, or truly imagined desolation! In vain I
took myself to task, saying the solitude was but a seeming: I was
awake, and they slept--that was all! it was only that they lay so
still and did not speak! they were with me now, and soon, soon I
should be with them!
I dropped Adam's old spade, and the dull sound of its fall on the
clay floor seemed reverberated from the chamber beyond: a childish
terror seized me; I sat and stared at the coffin-door.--But father
Adam, mother Eve, sister Mara would soon come to me, and then--
welcome the cold world and the white neighbours! I forgot my fears,
lived a little, and loved my dead.
Something did move in the chamber of the dead! There came from it
what was LIKE a dim, far-off sound, yet was not what I knew as sound.
My soul sprang into my ears. Was it a mere thrill of the dead air,
too slight to be heard, but quivering in every spiritual sense? I
KNEW without hearing, without feeling it!
The something was coming! it drew nearer! In the bosom of my
desertion awoke an infant hope. The noiseless thrill reached the
coffin-door--became sound, and smote on my ear.
The door began to move--with a low, soft creaking of its hinges. It
was opening! I ceased to listen, and stared expectant.
It opened a little way, and a face came into the opening. It was
Lona's. Its eyes were closed, but the face itself was upon me, and
seemed to see me. It was white as Eve's, white as Mara's, but did
not shine like their faces. She spoke, and her voice was like a
sleepy night-wind in the grass.
"Are you coming, king?" it said. "I cannot rest until you are with
me, gliding down the river to the great sea, and the beautiful
dream-land. The sleepiness is full of lovely things: come and see
"Ah, my darling!" I cried. "Had I but known!--I thought you were
She lay on my bosom--cold as ice frozen to marble. She threw her
arms, so white, feebly about me, and sighed--
"Carry me back to my bed, king. I want to sleep."
I bore her to the death-chamber, holding her tight lest she should
dissolve out of my arms. Unaware that I saw, I carried her straight
to her couch.
"Lay me down," she said, "and cover me from the warm air; it hurts--a
little. Your bed is there, next to mine. I shall see you when I
She was already asleep. I threw myself on my couch--blessed as
never was man on the eve of his wedding.
"Come, sweet cold," I said, "and still my heart speedily."
But there came instead a glimmer of light in the chamber, and I saw
the face of Adam approaching. He had not the candle, yet I saw him.
At the side of Lona's couch, he looked down on her with a questioning
smile, and then greeted me across it.
"We have been to the top of the hill to hear the waters on their
way," he said. "They will be in the den of the monsters to-night.--
But why did you not await our return?"
"My child could not sleep," I answered.
"She is fast asleep!" he rejoined.
"Yes, now!" I said; "but she was awake when I laid her down."
"She was asleep all the time!" he insisted. "She was perhaps
dreaming about you--and came to you?"
"And did you not see that her eyes were closed?"
"Now I think of it, I did."
"If you had looked ere you laid her down, you would have seen her
asleep on the couch."
"That would have been terrible!"
"You would only have found that she was no longer in your arms."
"That would have been worse!"
"It is, perhaps, to think of; but to see it would not have troubled
"Dear father," I said, "how is it that I am not sleepy? I thought
I should go to sleep like the Little Ones the moment I laid my head
"Your hour is not quite come. You must have food ere you sleep."
"Ah, I ought not to have lain down without your leave, for I cannot
sleep without your help! I will get up at once!"
But I found my own weight more than I could move.
"There is no need: we will serve you here," he answered. "--You do
not feel cold, do you?"
"Not too cold to lie still, but perhaps too cold to eat!"
He came to the side of my couch, bent over me, and breathed on my
heart. At once I was warm.
As he left me, I heard a voice, and knew it was the Mother's. She
was singing, and her song was sweet and soft and low, and I thought
she sat by my bed in the dark; but ere it ceased, her song soared
aloft, and seemed to come from the throat of a woman-angel, high
above all the region of larks, higher than man had ever yet lifted
up his heart. I heard every word she sang, but could keep only
"Many a wrong, and its curing song;
Many a road, and many an inn;
Room to roam, but only one home
For all the world to win!"
and I thought I had heard the song before.
Then the three came to my couch together, bringing me bread and wine,
and I sat up to partake of it. Adam stood on one side of me, Eve
and Mara on the other.
"You are good indeed, father Adam, mother Eve, sister Mara," I said,
"to receive me! In my soul I am ashamed and sorry!"
"We knew you would come again!" answered Eve.
"How could you know it?" I returned.
"Because here was I, born to look after my brothers and sisters!"
answered Mara with a smile.
"Every creature must one night yield himself and lie down," answered
Adam: "he was made for liberty, and must not be left a slave!"
"It will be late, I fear, ere all have lain down!" I said.
"There is no early or late here," he rejoined. "For him the true
time then first begins who lays himself down. Men are not coming
home fast; women are coming faster. A desert, wide and dreary,
parts him who lies down to die from him who lies down to live. The
former may well make haste, but here is no haste."
"To our eyes," said Eve, "you were coming all the time: we knew Mara
would find you, and you must come!"
"How long is it since my father lay down?" I asked.
"I have told you that years are of no consequence in this house,"
answered Adam; "we do not heed them. Your father will wake when his
morning comes. Your mother, next to whom you are lying,----"
"Ah, then, it IS my mother!" I exclaimed.
"Yes--she with the wounded hand," he assented; "--she will be up
and away long ere your morning is ripe."
"I am sorry."
"Rather be glad."
"It must be a sight for God Himself to see such a woman come awake!"
"It is indeed a sight for God, a sight that makes her Maker glad!
He sees of the travail of His soul, and is satisfied!--Look at her
once more, and sleep."
He let the rays of his candle fall on her beautiful face.
"She looks much younger!" I said.
"She IS much younger," he replied. "Even Lilith already begins to
I lay down, blissfully drowsy.
"But when you see your mother again," he continued, "you will not
at first know her. She will go on steadily growing younger until
she reaches the perfection of her womanhood--a splendour beyond
foresight. Then she will open her eyes, behold on one side her
husband, on the other her son--and rise and leave them to go to a
father and a brother more to her than they."
I heard as one in a dream. I was very cold, but already the cold
caused me no suffering. I felt them put on me the white garment of
the dead. Then I forgot everything. The night about me was pale
with sleeping faces, but I was asleep also, nor knew that I slept.
THE DREAMS THAT CAME
I grew aware of existence, aware also of the profound, the infinite
cold. I was intensely blessed--more blessed, I know, than my heart,
imagining, can now recall. I could not think of warmth with the
least suggestion of pleasure. I knew that I had enjoyed it, but
could not remember how. The cold had soothed every care, dissolved
every pain, comforted every sorrow. COMFORTED? Nay; sorrow was
swallowed up in the life drawing nigh to restore every good and
lovely thing a hundredfold! I lay at peace, full of the quietest
expectation, breathing the damp odours of Earth's bountiful bosom,
aware of the souls of primroses, daisies and snowdrops, patiently
waiting in it for the Spring.
How convey the delight of that frozen, yet conscious sleep! I had
no more to stand up! had only to lie stretched out and still! How
cold I was, words cannot tell; yet I grew colder and colder--and
welcomed the cold yet more and more. I grew continuously less
conscious of myself, continuously more conscious of bliss,
unimaginable yet felt. I had neither made it nor prayed for it: it
was mine in virtue of existence! and existence was mine in virtue
of a Will that dwelt in mine.
Then the dreams began to arrive--and came crowding.--I lay naked on
a snowy peak. The white mist heaved below me like a billowy sea.
The cold moon was in the air with me, and above the moon and me
the colder sky, in which the moon and I dwelt. I was Adam, waiting
for God to breathe into my nostrils the breath of life.--I was not
Adam, but a child in the bosom of a mother white with a radiant
whiteness. I was a youth on a white horse, leaping from cloud to
cloud of a blue heaven, hasting calmly to some blessed goal. For
centuries I dreamed--or was it chiliads? or only one long night?--But
why ask? for time had nothing to do with me; I was in the land of
thought--farther in, higher up than the seven dimensions, the ten
senses: I think I was where I am--in the heart of God.--I dreamed
away dim cycles in the centre of a melting glacier, the spectral
moon drawing nearer and nearer, the wind and the welter of a torrent
growing in my ears. I lay and heard them: the wind and the water
and the moon sang a peaceful waiting for a redemption drawing nigh.
I dreamed cycles, I say, but, for aught I knew or can tell, they were
the solemn, Šonian march of a second, pregnant with eternity.
Then, of a sudden, but not once troubling my conscious bliss, all
the wrongs I had ever done, from far beyond my earthly memory down
to the present moment, were with me. Fully in every wrong lived
the conscious I, confessing, abjuring, lamenting the dead, making
atonement with each person I had injured, hurt, or offended. Every
human soul to which I had caused a troubled thought, was now grown
unspeakably dear to me, and I humbled myself before it, agonising
to cast from between us the clinging offence. I wept at the feet
of the mother whose commands I had slighted; with bitter shame I
confessed to my father that I had told him two lies, and long
forgotten them: now for long had remembered them, and kept them in
memory to crush at last at his feet. I was the eager slave of all
whom I had thus or anyhow wronged. Countless services I devised to
render them! For this one I would build such a house as had never
grown from the ground! for that one I would train such horses as
had never yet been seen in any world! For a third I would make such
a garden as had never bloomed, haunted with still pools, and alive
with running waters! I would write songs to make their hearts
swell, and tales to make them glow! I would turn the forces of the
world into such channels of invention as to make them laugh with the
joy of wonder! Love possessed me! Love was my life! Love was to
me, as to him that made me, all in all!
Suddenly I found myself in a solid blackness, upon which the ghost
of light that dwells in the caverns of the eyes could not cast one
fancied glimmer. But my heart, which feared nothing and hoped
infinitely, was full of peace. I lay imagining what the light would
be when it came, and what new creation it would bring with it--when,
suddenly, without conscious volition, I sat up and stared about me.
The moon was looking in at the lowest, horizontal, crypt-like windows
of the death-chamber, her long light slanting, I thought, across
the fallen, but still ripening sheaves of the harvest of the great
husbandman.--But no; that harvest was gone! Gathered in, or swept
away by chaotic storm, not a sacred sheaf was there! My dead were
gone! I was alone!--In desolation dread lay depths yet deeper than
I had hitherto known!--Had there never been any ripening dead? Had
I but dreamed them and their loveliness? Why then these walls? why
the empty couches? No; they were all up! they were all abroad in
the new eternal day, and had forgotten me! They had left me behind,
and alone! Tenfold more terrible was the tomb its inhabitants away!
The quiet ones had made me quiet with their presence--had pervaded
my mind with their blissful peace; now I had no friend, and my lovers
were far from me! A moment I sat and stared horror-stricken. I had
been alone with the moon on a mountain top in the sky; now I was
alone with her in a huge cenotaph: she too was staring about, seeking
her dead with ghastly gaze! I sprang to my feet, and staggered from
the fearful place.
The cottage was empty. I ran out into the night.
No moon was there! Even as I left the chamber, a cloudy rampart
had risen and covered her. But a broad shimmer came from far over
the heath, mingled with a ghostly murmuring music, as if the moon
were raining a light that plashed as it fell. I ran stumbling
across the moor, and found a lovely lake, margined with reeds and
rushes: the moon behind the cloud was gazing upon the monsters' den,
full of clearest, brightest water, and very still.--But the musical
murmur went on, filling the quiet air, and drawing me after it.
I walked round the border of the little mere, and climbed the range
of hills. What a sight rose to my eyes! The whole expanse where,
with hot, aching feet, I had crossed and recrossed the deep-scored
channels and ravines of the dry river-bed, was alive with streams,
with torrents, with still pools--"a river deep and wide"! How the
moon flashed on the water! how the water answered the moon with
flashes of its own--white flashes breaking everywhere from its
rock-encountered flow! And a great jubilant song arose from its
bosom, the song of new-born liberty. I stood a moment gazing, and
my heart also began to exult: my life was not all a failure! I had
helped to set this river free!--My dead were not lost! I had but to
go after and find them! I would follow and follow until I came
whither they had gone! Our meeting might be thousands of years
away, but at last--AT LAST I should hold them! Wherefore else did
the floods clap their hands?
I hurried down the hill: my pilgrimage was begun! In what direction
to turn my steps I knew not, but I must go and go till I found my
living dead! A torrent ran swift and wide at the foot of the range:
I rushed in, it laid no hold upon me; I waded through it. The next
I sprang across; the third I swam; the next I waded again.
I stopped to gaze on the wondrous loveliness of the ceaseless flash
and flow, and to hearken to the multitudinous broken music. Every
now and then some incipient air would seem about to draw itself clear
of the dulcet confusion, only to merge again in the consorted roar.
At moments the world of waters would invade as if to overwhelm me--not
with the force of its seaward rush, or the shouting of its liberated
throng, but with the greatness of the silence wandering into sound.
As I stood lost in delight, a hand was laid on my shoulder. I
turned, and saw a man in the prime of strength, beautiful as if
fresh from the heart of the glad creator, young like him who cannot
grow old. I looked: it was Adam. He stood large and grand, clothed
in a white robe, with the moon in his hair.
"Father," I cried, "where is she? Where are the dead? Is the great
resurrection come and gone? The terror of my loneliness was upon me;
I could not sleep without my dead; I ran from the desolate chamber.
--Whither shall I go to find them?"
"You mistake, my son," he answered, in a voice whose very breath
was consolation. "You are still in the chamber of death, still
upon your couch, asleep and dreaming, with the dead around you."
"Alas! when I but dream how am I to know it? The dream best dreamed
is the likest to the waking truth!"
"When you are quite dead, you will dream no false dream. The soul
that is true can generate nothing that is not true, neither can the
false enter it."
"But, sir," I faltered, "how am I to distinguish betwixt the true
and the false where both alike seem real?"
"Do you not understand?" he returned, with a smile that might have
slain all the sorrows of all his children. "You CANNOT perfectly
distinguish between the true and the false while you are not yet
quite dead; neither indeed will you when you are quite dead--that
is, quite alive, for then the false will never present itself. At
this moment, believe me, you are on your bed in the house of death."
"I am trying hard to believe you, father. I do indeed believe you,
although I can neither see nor feel the truth of what you say."
"You are not to blame that you cannot. And because even in a dream
you believe me, I will help you.--Put forth your left hand open,
and close it gently: it will clasp the hand of your Lona, who lies
asleep where you lie dreaming you are awake."
I put forth my hand: it closed on the hand of Lona, firm and soft
"But, father," I cried, "she is warm!"
"Your hand is as warm to hers. Cold is a thing unknown in our
country. Neither she nor you are yet in the fields of home, but
each to each is alive and warm and healthful."
Then my heart was glad. But immediately supervened a sharp-stinging
"Father," I said, "forgive me, but how am I to know surely that this
also is not a part of the lovely dream in which I am now walking
"Thou doubtest because thou lovest the truth. Some would willingly
believe life but a phantasm, if only it might for ever afford them
a world of pleasant dreams: thou art not of such! Be content for
a while not to know surely. The hour will come, and that ere long,
when, being true, thou shalt behold the very truth, and doubt will
be for ever dead. Scarce, then, wilt thou be able to recall the
features of the phantom. Thou wilt then know that which thou canst
not now dream. Thou hast not yet looked the Truth in the face, hast
as yet at best but seen him through a cloud. That which thou seest
not, and never didst see save in a glass darkly--that which, indeed,
never can be known save by its innate splendour shining straight
into pure eyes--that thou canst not but doubt, and art blameless in
doubting until thou seest it face to face, when thou wilt no longer
be able to doubt it. But to him who has once seen even a shadow
only of the truth, and, even but hoping he has seen it when it is
present no longer, tries to obey it--to him the real vision, the
Truth himself, will come, and depart no more, but abide with him
"I think I see, father," I said; "I think I understand."
"Then remember, and recall. Trials yet await thee, heavy, of a
nature thou knowest not now. Remember the things thou hast seen.
Truly thou knowest not those things, but thou knowest what they have
seemed, what they have meant to thee! Remember also the things thou
shalt yet see. Truth is all in all; and the truth of things lies,
at once hid and revealed, in their seeming."
"How can that be, father?" I said, and raised my eyes with the
question; for I had been listening with downbent head, aware of
nothing but the voice of Adam.
He was gone; in my ears was nought but the sounding silence of the
swift-flowing waters. I stretched forth my hands to find him, but
no answering touch met their seeking. I was alone--alone in the
land of dreams! To myself I seemed wide awake, but I believed I was
in a dream, because he had told me so.
Even in a dream, however, the dreamer must do something! he cannot
sit down and refuse to stir until the dream grow weary of him and
depart: I took up my wandering, and went on.
Many channels I crossed, and came to a wider space of rock; there,
dreaming I was weary, I laid myself down, and longed to be awake.
I was about to rise and resume my journey, when I discovered that I
lay beside a pit in the rock, whose mouth was like that of a grave.
It was deep and dark; I could see no bottom.
Now in the dreams of my childhood I had found that a fall invariably
woke me, and would, therefore, when desiring to discontinue a dream,
seek some eminence whence to cast myself down that I might wake:
with one glance at the peaceful heavens, and one at the rushing
waters, I rolled myself over the edge of the pit.
For a moment consciousness left me. When it returned, I stood in
the garret of my own house, in the little wooden chamber of the cowl
and the mirror.
Unspeakable despair, hopelessness blank and dreary, invaded me with
the knowledge: between me and my Lona lay an abyss impassable!
stretched a distance no chain could measure! Space and Time and
Mode of Being, as with walls of adamant unscalable, impenetrable,
shut me in from that gulf! True, it might yet be in my power to
pass again through the door of light, and journey back to the chamber
of the dead; and if so, I was parted from that chamber only by a
wide heath, and by the pale, starry night betwixt me and the sun,
which alone could open for me the mirror-door, and was now far away
on the other side of the world! but an immeasurably wider gulf sank
between us in this--that she was asleep and I was awake! that I was
no longer worthy to share with her that sleep, and could no longer
hope to awake from it with her! For truly I was much to blame: I
had fled from my dream! The dream was not of my making, any more
than was my life: I ought to have seen it to the end! and in fleeing
from it, I had left the holy sleep itself behind me!--I would go
back to Adam, tell him the truth, and bow to his decree!
I crept to my chamber, threw myself on my bed, and passed a dreamless
I rose, and listlessly sought the library. On the way I met no one;
the house seemed dead. I sat down with a book to await the noontide:
not a sentence could I understand! The mutilated manuscript offered
itself from the masked door: the sight of it sickened me; what to me
was the princess with her devilry!
I rose and looked out of a window. It was a brilliant morning. With
a great rush the fountain shot high, and fell roaring back. The sun
sat in its feathery top. Not a bird sang, not a creature was to
be seen. Raven nor librarian came near me. The world was dead
about me. I took another book, sat down again, and went on waiting.
Noon was near. I went up the stairs to the dumb, shadowy roof. I
closed behind me the door into the wooden chamber, and turned to
open the door out of a dreary world.
I left the chamber with a heart of stone. Do what I might, all was
fruitless. I pulled the chains; adjusted and re-adjusted the hood;
arranged and re-arranged the mirrors; no result followed. I waited
and waited to give the vision time; it would not come; the mirror
stood blank; nothing lay in its dim old depth but the mirror
opposite and my haggard face.
I went back to the library. There the books were hateful to me--for
I had once loved them.
That night I lay awake from down-lying to uprising, and the next
day renewed my endeavours with the mystic door. But all was yet in
vain. How the hours went I cannot think. No one came nigh me; not
a sound from the house below entered my ears. Not once did I feel
weary--only desolate, drearily desolate.
I passed a second sleepless night. In the morning I went for the
last time to the chamber in the roof, and for the last time sought
an open door: there was none. My heart died within me. I had lost
Was she anywhere? had she ever been, save in the mouldering cells
of my brain? "I must die one day," I thought, "and then, straight
from my death-bed, I will set out to find her! If she is not, I
will go to the Father and say--`Even thou canst not help me: let me
cease, I pray thee!'"
The fourth night I seemed to fall asleep, and that night woke indeed.
I opened my eyes and knew, although all was dark around me, that I
lay in the house of death, and that every moment since there I fell
asleep I had been dreaming, and now first was awake. "At last!" I
said to my heart, and it leaped for joy. I turned my eyes; Lona
stood by my couch, waiting for me! I had never lost her!--only for
a little time lost the sight of her! Truly I needed not have
lamented her so sorely!
It was dark, as I say, but I saw her: SHE was not dark! Her eyes
shone with the radiance of the Mother's, and the same light issued
from her face--nor from her face only, for her death-dress, filled
with the light of her body now tenfold awake in the power of its
resurrection, was white as snow and glistering. She fell asleep a
girl; she awoke a woman, ripe with the loveliness of the life
essential. I folded her in my arms, and knew that I lived indeed.
"I woke first!" she said, with a wondering smile.
"You did, my love, and woke me!"
"I only looked at you and waited," she answered.
The candle came floating toward us through the dark, and in a few
moments Adam and Eve and Mara were with us. They greeted us with a
quiet good-morning and a smile: they were used to such wakings!
"I hope you have had a pleasant darkness!" said the Mother.
"Not very," I answered, "but the waking from it is heavenly."
"It is but begun," she rejoined; "you are hardly yet awake!"
"He is at least clothed-upon with Death, which is the radiant garment
of Life," said Adam.
He embraced Lona his child, put an arm around me, looked a moment
or two inquiringly at the princess, and patted the head of the
"I think we shall meet you two again before long," he said, looking
first at Lona, then at me.
"Have we to die again?" I asked.
"No," he answered, with a smile like the Mother's; "you have died
into life, and will die no more; you have only to keep dead. Once
dying as we die here, all the dying is over. Now you have only to
live, and that you must, with all your blessed might. The more you
live, the stronger you become to live."
"But shall I not grow weary with living so strong?" I said. "What
if I cease to live with all my might?"
"It needs but the will, and the strength is there!" said the Mother.
"Pure life has no weakness to grow weary withal. THE Life keeps
generating ours.--Those who will not die, die many times, die
constantly, keep dying deeper, never have done dying; here all is
upwardness and love and gladness."
She ceased with a smile and a look that seemed to say, "We are
mother and son; we understand each other! Between us no farewell
Mara kissed me on the forehead, and said, gayly,
"I told you, brother, all would be well!--When next you would
comfort, say, `What will be well, is even now well.'"
She gave a little sigh, and I thought it meant, "But they will not
"--You know me now!" she ended, with a smile like her mother's.
"I know you!" I answered: "you are the voice that cried in the
wilderness before ever the Baptist came! you are the shepherd whose
wolves hunt the wandering sheep home ere the shadow rise and the
night grow dark!"
"My work will one day be over," she said, "and then I shall be glad
with the gladness of the great shepherd who sent me."
"All the night long the morning is at hand," said Adam.
"What is that flapping of wings I hear?" I asked.
"The Shadow is hovering," replied Adam: "there is one here whom he
counts his own! But ours once, never more can she be his!"
I turned to look on the faces of my father and mother, and kiss them
ere we went: their couches were empty save of the Little Ones who
had with love's boldness appropriated their hospitality! For an
instant that awful dream of desolation overshadowed me, and I turned
"What is it, my heart?" said Lona.
"Their empty places frightened me," I answered.
"They are up and away long ago," said Adam. "They kissed you ere
they went, and whispered, `Come soon.'"
"And I neither to feel nor hear them!" I murmured.
"How could you--far away in your dreary old house! You thought the
dreadful place had you once more! Now go and find them.--Your
parents, my child," he added, turning to Lona, "must come and find
The hour of our departure was at hand. Lona went to the couch of
the mother who had slain her, and kissed her tenderly--then laid
herself in her father's arms.
"That kiss will draw her homeward, my Lona!" said Adam.
"Who were her parents?" asked Lona.
"My father," answered Adam, "is her father also."
She turned and laid her hand in mine.
I kneeled and humbly thanked the three for helping me to die. Lona
knelt beside me, and they all breathed upon us.
"Hark! I hear the sun," said Adam.
I listened: he was coming with the rush as of a thousand times ten
thousand far-off wings, with the roar of a molten and flaming world
millions upon millions of miles away. His approach was a crescendo
chord of a hundred harmonies.
The three looked at each other and smiled, and that smile went
floating heavenward a three-petaled flower, the family's morning
thanksgiving. From their mouths and their faces it spread over
their bodies and shone through their garments. Ere I could say,
"Lo, they change!" Adam and Eve stood before me the angels of the
resurrection, and Mara was the Magdalene with them at the sepulchre.
The countenance of Adam was like lightning, and Eve held a napkin
that flung flakes of splendour about the place.
A wind began to moan in pulsing gusts.
"You hear his wings now!" said Adam; and I knew he did not mean the
wings of the morning.
"It is the great Shadow stirring to depart," he went on. "Wretched
creature, he has himself within him, and cannot rest!"
"But is there not in him something deeper yet?" I asked.
"Without a substance," he answered, "a shadow cannot be--yea, or
without a light behind the substance!"
He listened for a moment, then called out, with a glad smile, "Hark
to the golden cock! Silent and motionless for millions of years has
he stood on the clock of the universe; now at last he is flapping
his wings! now will he begin to crow! and at intervals will men hear
him until the dawn of the day eternal."
I listened. Far away--as in the heart of an Šonian silence, I heard
the clear jubilant outcry of the golden throat. It hurled defiance
at death and the dark; sang infinite hope, and coming calm. It was
the "expectation of the creature" finding at last a voice; the cry
of a chaos that would be a kingdom!
Then I heard a great flapping.
"The black bat is flown!" said Mara.
"Amen, golden cock, bird of God!" cried Adam, and the words rang
through the house of silence, and went up into the airy regions.
At his AMEN--like doves arising on wings of silver from among the
potsherds, up sprang the Little Ones to their knees on their beds,
"Crow! crow again, golden cock!"--as if they had both seen and heard
him in their dreams.
Then each turned and looked at the sleeping bedfellow, gazed a
moment with loving eyes, kissed the silent companion of the night,
and sprang from the couch. The Little Ones who had lain down beside
my father and mother gazed blank and sad for a moment at their
empty places, then slid slowly to the floor. There they fell each
into the other's arms, as if then first, each by the other's eyes,
assured they were alive and awake. Suddenly spying Lona, they came
running, radiant with bliss, to embrace her. Odu, catching sight of
the leopardess on the feet of the princess, bounded to her next, and
throwing an arm over the great sleeping head, fondled and kissed it.
"Wake up, wake up, darling!" he cried; "it is time to wake!"
The leopardess did not move.
"She has slept herself cold!" he said to Mara, with an upcast look
of appealing consternation.
"She is waiting for the princess to wake, my child," said Mara.
Odu looked at the princess, and saw beside her, still asleep, two
of his companions. He flew at them.
"Wake up! wake up!" he cried, and pushed and pulled, now this one,
But soon he began to look troubled, and turned to me with misty eyes.
"They will not wake!" he said. "And why are they so cold?"
"They too are waiting for the princess," I answered.
He stretched across, and laid his hand on her face.
"She is cold too! What is it?" he cried--and looked round in
Adam went to him.
"Her wake is not ripe yet," he said: "she is busy forgetting. When
she has forgotten enough to remember enough, then she will soon be
ripe, and wake."
"Yes--but not too much at once though."
"But the golden cock has crown!" argued the child, and fell again
upon his companions.
"Peter! Peter! Crispy!" he cried. "Wake up, Peter! wake up, Crispy!
We are all awake but you two! The gold cock has crown SO loud! The
sun is awake and coming! Oh, why WON'T you wake?"
But Peter would not wake, neither would Crispy, and Odu wept outright
"Let them sleep, darling!" said Adam. "You would not like the
princess to wake and find nobody? They are quite happy. So is the
He was comforted, and wiped his eyes as if he had been all his life
used to weeping and wiping, though now first he had tears wherewith
to weep--soon to be wiped altogether away.
We followed Eve to the cottage. There she offered us neither bread
nor wine, but stood radiantly desiring our departure. So, with never
a word of farewell, we went out. The horse and the elephants were
at the door, waiting for us. We were too happy to mount them, and
they followed us.
THE JOURNEY HOME
It had ceased to be dark; we walked in a dim twilight, breathing
through the dimness the breath of the spring. A wondrous change had
passed upon the world--or was it not rather that a change more
marvellous had taken place in us? Without light enough in the sky
or the air to reveal anything, every heather-bush, every small shrub,
every blade of grass was perfectly visible--either by light that
went out from it, as fire from the bush Moses saw in the desert, or
by light that went out of our eyes. Nothing cast a shadow; all
things interchanged a little light. Every growing thing showed me,
by its shape and colour, its indwelling idea--the informing thought,
that is, which was its being, and sent it out. My bare feet seemed
to love every plant they trod upon. The world and my being, its
life and mine, were one. The microcosm and macrocosm were at length
atoned, at length in harmony! I lived in everything; everything
entered and lived in me. To be aware of a thing, was to know its
life at once and mine, to know whence we came, and where we were at
home--was to know that we are all what we are, because Another is
what he is! Sense after sense, hitherto asleep, awoke in me--sense
after sense indescribable, because no correspondent words, no
likenesses or imaginations exist, wherewithal to describe them.
Full indeed--yet ever expanding, ever making room to receive--was
the conscious being where things kept entering by so many open
doors! When a little breeze brushing a bush of heather set its
purple bells a ringing, I was myself in the joy of the bells, myself
in the joy of the breeze to which responded their sweet TIN-TINNING**,
myself in the joy of the sense, and of the soul that received all
the joys together. To everything glad I lent the hall of my being
wherein to revel. I was a peaceful ocean upon which the ground-swell
of a living joy was continually lifting new waves; yet was the joy
ever the same joy, the eternal joy, with tens of thousands of
changing forms. Life was a cosmic holiday.
Now I knew that life and truth were one; that life mere and pure
is in itself bliss; that where being is not bliss, it is not life,
but life-in-death. Every inspiration of the dark wind that blew
where it listed, went out a sigh of thanksgiving. At last I was!
I lived, and nothing could touch my life! My darling walked beside
me, and we were on our way home to the Father!
So much was ours ere ever the first sun rose upon our freedom: what
must not the eternal day bring with it!
We came to the fearful hollow where once had wallowed the monsters
of the earth: it was indeed, as I had beheld it in my dream, a
lovely lake. I gazed into its pellucid depths. A whirlpool had
swept out the soil in which the abortions burrowed, and at the
bottom lay visible the whole horrid brood: a dim greenish light
pervaded the crystalline water, and revealed every hideous form
beneath it. Coiled in spires, folded in layers, knotted on
themselves, or "extended long and large," they weltered in motionless
heaps--shapes more fantastic in ghoulish, blasting dismay, than ever
wine-sodden brain of exhausted poet fevered into misbeing. He who
dived in the swirling Maelstrom saw none to compare with them in
horror: tentacular convolutions, tumid bulges, glaring orbs of
sepian deformity, would have looked to him innocence beside such
incarnations of hatefulness--every head the wicked flower that,
bursting from an abominable stalk, perfected its evil significance.
Not one of them moved as we passed. But they were not dead. So
long as exist men and women of unwholesome mind, that lake will still
be peopled with loathsomenesses.
But hark the herald of the sun, the auroral wind, softly trumpeting
his approach! The master-minister of the human tabernacle is at
hand! Heaping before his prow a huge ripple-fretted wave of crimson
and gold, he rushes aloft, as if new launched from the urging hand
of his maker into the upper sea--pauses, and looks down on the
world. White-raving storm of molten metals, he is but a coal from
the altar of the Father's never-ending sacrifice to his children.
See every little flower straighten its stalk, lift up its neck, and
with outstretched head stand expectant: something more than the sun,
greater than the light, is coming, is coming--none the less surely
coming that it is long upon the road! What matters to-day, or
to-morrow, or ten thousand years to Life himself, to Love himself!
He is coming, is coming, and the necks of all humanity are stretched
out to see him come! Every morning will they thus outstretch
themselves, every evening will they droop and wait--until he comes.
--Is this but an air-drawn vision? When he comes, will he indeed
find them watching thus?
It was a glorious resurrection-morning. The night had been spent in
The children went gamboling before, and the beasts came after us.
Fluttering butterflies, darting dragon-flies hovered or shot hither
and thither about our heads, a cloud of colours and flashes, now
descending upon us like a snow-storm of rainbow flakes, now rising
into the humid air like a rolling vapour of embodied odours. It was
a summer-day more like itself, that is, more ideal, than ever man
that had not died found summer-day in any world. I walked on the
new earth, under the new heaven, and found them the same as the old,
save that now they opened their minds to me, and I saw into them.
Now, the soul of everything I met came out to greet me and make
friends with me, telling me we came from the same, and meant the
same. I was going to him, they said, with whom they always were,
and whom they always meant; they were, they said, lightnings that
took shape as they flashed from him to his. The dark rocks drank
like sponges the rays that showered upon them; the great world soaked
up the light, and sent out the living. Two joy-fires were Lona
and I. Earth breathed heavenward her sweet-savoured smoke; we
breathed homeward our longing desires. For thanksgiving, our very
consciousness was that.
We came to the channels, once so dry and wearyful: they ran and
flashed and foamed with living water that shouted in its gladness!
Far as the eye could see, all was a rushing, roaring, dashing river
of water made vocal by its rocks.
We did not cross it, but "walked in glory and in joy" up its right
bank, until we reached the great cataract at the foot of the sandy
desert, where, roaring and swirling and dropping sheer, the river
divided into its two branches. There we climbed the height--and
found no desert: through grassy plains, between grassy banks, flowed
the deep, wide, silent river full to the brim. Then first to the
Little Ones was revealed the glory of God in the limpid flow of
water. Instinctively they plunged and swam, and the beasts followed
The desert rejoiced and blossomed as the rose. Wide forests had
sprung up, their whole undergrowth flowering shrubs peopled with
song-birds. Every thicket gave birth to a rivulet, and every rivulet
to its water-song.
The place of the buried hand gave no sign. Beyond and still beyond,
the river came in full volume from afar. Up and up we went, now
along grassy margin, and now through forest of gracious trees. The
grass grew sweeter and its flowers more lovely and various as we
went; the trees grew larger, and the wind fuller of messages.
We came at length to a forest whose trees were greater, grander, and
more beautiful than any we had yet seen. Their live pillars upheaved
a thick embowed roof, betwixt whose leaves and blossoms hardly a
sunbeam filtered. Into the rafters of this aerial vault the children
climbed, and through them went scrambling and leaping in a land of
bloom, shouting to the unseen elephants below, and hearing them
trumpet their replies. The conversations between them Lona
understood while I but guessed at them blunderingly. The Little Ones
chased the squirrels, and the squirrels, frolicking, drew them
on--always at length allowing themselves to be caught and petted.
Often would some bird, lovely in plumage and form, light upon one of
them, sing a song of what was coming, and fly away. Not one monkey
of any sort could they see.
Lona and I, who walked below, heard at last a great shout overhead,
and in a moment or two the Little Ones began to come dropping down
from the foliage with the news that, climbing to the top of a tree
yet taller than the rest, they had descried, far across the plain, a
curious something on the side of a solitary mountain--which mountain,
they said, rose and rose, until the sky gathered thick to keep it
down, and knocked its top off.
"It may be a city," they said, "but it is not at all like Bulika."
I went up to look, and saw a great city, ascending into blue clouds,
where I could not distinguish mountain from sky and cloud, or rocks
from dwellings. Cloud and mountain and sky, palace and precipice
mingled in a seeming chaos of broken shadow and shine.
I descended, the Little Ones came with me, and together we sped on
faster. They grew yet merrier as they went, leading the way, and
never looking behind them. The river grew lovelier and lovelier,
until I knew that never before had I seen real water. Nothing in
this world is more than LIKE it.
By and by we could from the plain see the city among the blue clouds.
But other clouds were gathering around a lofty tower--or was it a
rock?--that stood above the city, nearer the crest of the mountain.
Gray, and dark gray, and purple, they writhed in confused, contrariant
motions, and tossed up a vaporous foam, while spots in them gyrated
like whirlpools. At length issued a dazzling flash, which seemed
for a moment to play about the Little Ones in front of us. Blinding
darkness followed, but through it we heard their voices, low with
"Did you see?"
"What did you see?"
"The beautifullest man."
"I heard him speak!"
"I didn't: what did he say?"
Here answered the smallest and most childish of the voices--that of
"He said, `'Ou's all mine's, 'ickle ones: come along!'"
I had seen the lightning, but heard no words; Lona saw and heard
with the children. A second flash came, and my eyes, though not
my ears, were opened. The great quivering light was compact of
angel-faces. They lamped themselves visible, and vanished.
A third flash came; its substance and radiance were human.
"I see my mother!" I cried.
"I see lots o' mothers!" said Luva.
Once more the cloud flashed--all kinds of creatures--horses and
elephants, lions and dogs--oh, such beasts! And such birds!--great
birds whose wings gleamed singly every colour gathered in sunset
or rainbow! little birds whose feathers sparkled as with all the
precious stones of the hoarding earth!--silvery cranes; red
flamingoes; opal pigeons; peacocks gorgeous in gold and green and
blue; jewelly humming birds!--great-winged butterflies; lithe-volumed
creeping things--all in one heavenly flash!
"I see that serpents grow birds here, as caterpillars used to grow
butterflies!" remarked Lona.
"I saw my white pony, that died when I was a child.--I needn't have
been so sorry; I should just have waited!" I said.
Thunder, clap or roll, there had been none. And now came a sweet
rain, filling the atmosphere with a caressing coolness. We breathed
deep, and stepped out with stronger strides. The falling drops
flashed the colours of all the waked up gems of the earth, and a
mighty rainbow spanned the city.
The blue clouds gathered thicker; the rain fell in torrents; the
children exulted and ran; it was all we could do to keep them in
With silent, radiant roll, the river swept onward, filling to the
margin its smooth, soft, yielding channel. For, instead of rock or
shingle or sand, it flowed over grass in which grew primroses and
daisies, crocuses and narcissi, pimpernels and anemones, a starry
multitude, large and bright through the brilliant water. The river
had gathered no turbid cloudiness from the rain, not even a tinge
of yellow or brown; the delicate mass shone with the pale berylline
gleam that ascended from its deep, dainty bed.
Drawing nearer to the mountain, we saw that the river came from its
very peak, and rushed in full volume through the main street of the
city. It descended to the gate by a stair of deep and wide steps,
mingled of porphyry and serpentine, which continued to the foot of
the mountain. There arriving we found shallower steps on both banks,
leading up to the gate, and along the ascending street. Without the
briefest halt, the Little Ones ran straight up the stair to the
gate, which stood open.
Outside, on the landing, sat the portress, a woman-angel of dark
visage, leaning her shadowed brow on her idle hand. The children
rushed upon her, covering her with caresses, and ere she understood,
they had taken heaven by surprise, and were already in the city,
still mounting the stair by the side of the descending torrent. A
great angel, attended by a company of shining ones, came down to
meet and receive them, but merrily evading them all, up still they
ran. In merry dance, however, a group of woman-angels descended
upon them, and in a moment they were fettered in heavenly arms. The
radiants carried them away, and I saw them no more.
"Ah!" said the mighty angel, continuing his descent to meet us who
were now almost at the gate and within hearing of his words, "this
is well! these are soldiers to take heaven itself by storm!--I hear
of a horde of black bats on the frontiers: these will make short
work with such!"
Seeing the horse and the elephants clambering up behind us--
"Take those animals to the royal stables," he added; "there tend
them; then turn them into the king's forest."
"Welcome home!" he said to us, bending low with the sweetest smile.
Immediately he turned and led the way higher. The scales of his
armour flashed like flakes of lightning.
Thought cannot form itself to tell what I felt, thus received by
the officers of heaven***. All I wanted and knew not, must be on
its way to me!
We stood for a moment at the gate whence issued roaring the radiant
river. I know not whence came the stones that fashioned it, but
among them I saw the prototypes of all the gems I had loved on
earth--far more beautiful than they, for these were living stones
--such in which I saw, not the intent alone, but the intender too;
not the idea alone, but the imbodier present, the operant outsender:
nothing in this kingdom was dead; nothing was mere; nothing only a
We went up through the city and passed out. There was no wall on
the upper side, but a huge pile of broken rocks, upsloping like the
moraine of an eternal glacier; and through the openings between the
rocks, the river came billowing out. On their top I could dimly
discern what seemed three or four great steps of a stair,
disappearing in a cloud white as snow; and above the steps I saw,
but with my mind's eye only, as it were a grand old chair, the
throne of the Ancient of Days. Over and under and between those
steps issued, plenteously, unceasingly new-born, the river of the
water of life.
The great angel could guide us no farther: those rocks we must ascend
My heart beating with hope and desire, I held faster the hand of my
Lona, and we began to climb; but soon we let each other go, to use
hands as well as feet in the toilsome ascent of the huge stones.
At length we drew near the cloud, which hung down the steps like
the borders of a garment, passed through the fringe, and entered
the deep folds. A hand, warm and strong, laid hold of mine, and
drew me to a little door with a golden lock. The door opened; the
hand let mine go, and pushed me gently through. I turned quickly,
and saw the board of a large book in the act of closing behind me.
I stood alone in my library.
THE "ENDLESS ENDING"
As yet I have not found Lona, but Mara is much with me. She has
taught me many things, and is teaching me more.
Can it be that that last waking also was in the dream? that I am
still in the chamber of death, asleep and dreaming, not yet ripe
enough to wake? Or can it be that I did not go to sleep outright
and heartily, and so have come awake too soon? If that waking was
itself but a dream, surely it was a dream of a better waking yet
to come, and I have not been the sport of a false vision! Such a
dream must have yet lovelier truth at the heart of its dreaming!
In moments of doubt I cry,
"Could God Himself create such lovely things as I dreamed?"
"Whence then came thy dream?" answers Hope.
"Out of my dark self, into the light of my consciousness."
"But whence first into thy dark self?" rejoins Hope.
"My brain was its mother, and the fever in my blood its father."
"Say rather," suggests Hope, "thy brain was the violin whence it
issued, and the fever in thy blood the bow that drew it forth.--But
who made the violin? and who guided the bow across its strings?
Say rather, again--who set the song birds each on its bough in the
tree of life, and startled each in its order from its perch? Whence
came the fantasia? and whence the life that danced thereto? Didst
THOU say, in the dark of thy own unconscious self, `Let beauty be;
let truth seem!' and straightway beauty was, and truth but seemed?"
Man dreams and desires; God broods and wills and quickens.
When a man dreams his own dream, he is the sport of his dream; when
Another gives it him, that Other is able to fulfil it.
I have never again sought the mirror. The hand sent me back: I
will not go out again by that door! "All the days of my appointed
time will I wait till my change come."
Now and then, when I look round on my books, they seem to waver as
if a wind rippled their solid mass, and another world were about to
break through. Sometimes when I am abroad, a like thing takes place;
the heavens and the earth, the trees and the grass appear for a
moment to shake as if about to pass away; then, lo, they have
settled again into the old familiar face! At times I seem to hear
whisperings around me, as if some that loved me were talking of me;
but when I would distinguish the words, they cease, and all is very
still. I know not whether these things rise in my brain, or enter
it from without. I do not seek them; they come, and I let them go.
Strange dim memories, which will not abide identification, often,
through misty windows of the past, look out upon me in the broad
daylight, but I never dream now. It may be, notwithstanding, that,
when most awake, I am only dreaming the more! But when I wake at
last into that life which, as a mother her child, carries this life
in its bosom, I shall know that I wake, and shall doubt no more.
I wait; asleep or awake, I wait.
Novalis says, "Our life is no dream, but it should and will perhaps
*Chapter 42: William Law.
**Chapter 45: Tin tin sonando con sý dolce nota
Che 'l ben disposto spirito d' amor turge.
DEL PARADISO, x. 142.
***Chapter 46: Oma' vedrai di sý fatti uficiali.
Del Purgatorio, ii. 30.