Part 4 out of 5
sound were all thrown up and outwards from the quivering surface of
the Earth itself.
Yet, almost simultaneously with the first instant of waking, the body
issued its call of warning. For, while he gazed, and before time for the
least reflection came, the Irishman experienced this dislocating
conviction that he himself was taking part in the whirling gambol even
while he lay and watched it, and that in this way the sense of division
in his personality was explained. The fragment of himself within the
brain watched some other more vital fragment--some projection of his
consciousness detached and separate--playing yonder with its kind
beneath the moon.
This sense of a divided self was not new to him, but never before had
he known it so distinct and overwhelming. The definiteness of the
division, as well as the importance and vitality of the separated
portion, were arrestingly novel. It felt as though he were completely
out, or to such a degree, at least, that the fraction left behind with
the brain was at first only just sufficient for him to recognize his body
Yonder with these others he felt the wind of movement pass along
his back, he saw the trees slip by, and knew the very contact of the
ground between the leaps. His movements were natural and easy, light
as air and fast as wind; they seemed automatic, impelled by something
mighty that directed and contained them. He knew, too, the sensation
that others pressed behind him and passed before, slipped in and out,
and that through the whole wild urgency of it he yet could never make
an error. More--he knew that these shifting forms had been close and
dancing about him for a time not measurable merely by the hours of a
single night, that in a sense they were always there though he had but
just discovered them. His earlier glimpses had been a very partial
divination of a truth, immense and beautiful, that now dawned quite
gorgeously upon him all complete.
The whole world danced. The Universe was rhythmical as well as metrical.
For this amazing splendor showed itself in a flash-like revelation to
the freed portion of his consciousness, and he knew it irresistibly
because he himself shared it. Here was an infinite joy, naked and
unashamed, born of the mighty Mother's heart and life, a joy which, in
its feebler, lesser manifestations, trickles down into human conditions,
though still spontaneously even then, so pure its primal urgency,
The entire experience, the entire revelation, he thinks, can have
occupied but a fraction of a second, but it seemed to smite the whole
of his being at once with the conviction of a supreme authority. And
close behind it came, too, that other sister expression of a spontaneous
and natural expression, equally rhythmical--the impulse to sing. He
could have sung aloud. For this puissant and mysterious rhythm to which
all moved was greater than any little measure of their own. Surging
through them, it came from outside and beyond, infinitely greater than
themselves, springing from something of which they were, nevertheless, a
living portion. From the body of the Earth it came direct--it was in
fact a manifestation of her own vibrating life. The currents of the
Earth pulsed through them.
"And then," he says, "I caught this flaming thought of wonder, though so
much of it faded instantly upon my full awakening that I can only give
you the merest suggestion of what it was."
He stood up beside me as he said it, spreading his arms, as so often
when he was excited, to the sky. I caught the glow of his eyes, and in
his voice was passion. He spoke unquestionably of something he had
intimately known, not as men speak of even the vividest dreams, but of
realities that have burned the heart and left their trails of glory.
"Science has guessed some inkling of the truth," he cried, "when it
declares that the ultimate molecules of matter are in constant vibratory
movement one about another, even upon the point of a needle. But I
saw--_knew_, rather, as if I had always known it, sweet as summer rain,
and close in me as love--that the whole Earth with all her myriad
expressions of life moved to this primal rhythm as of some divine
"Dancing?" I asked, puzzled.
"Rhythmical movement call it then," he replied. "To share the life of
the Earth is to dance and sing in a huge abundant joy! And the nearer
to her great heart, the more natural and spontaneous the impulse--the
instinctive dancing of primitive races, of savages and children, still
artless and untamed; the gamboling of animals, of rabbits in the meadows
and of deer unwatched in forest clearings--you know naturalists have
sometimes seen it; of birds in the air--rooks, gulls, and swallows; of
the life within the sea; even of gnats in the haze of summer afternoons.
All life simple enough to touch and share the enormous happiness of
her deep, streaming, personal Being, dances instinctively for very
joy--obedient to a greater measure than they know.... The natural
movement of the great Earth-Soul is rhythmical. The very winds, the
swaying of trees and flowers and grasses, the movement of the sea, of
water running through the fields with silver feet, of the clouds and
edges of the mist, even the trembling of the earthquakes,--all, all
respond in sympathetic motions to this huge vibratory movement of her
great central pulse. Ay, and the mountains too, though so vastly
scaled their measure that perhaps we only know the pauses in between,
and think them motionless.... The mountains rise and fall and change;
our very breathing, first sign of stirring life, even the circulation of
our blood, bring testimony; our speech as well--inspired words are ever
rhythmical, language that pours into the poet's mind from something
greater than himself. And not unwisely, but in obedience to a deep
instinctive knowledge was dancing once--in earlier, simpler days--a
form of worship. You know, at least, how rhythm in music and ceremonial
uplifts and cleans and simplifies the heart toward the greater life....
You know, perhaps, the Dance of Jesus...."
The words poured from him with passion, yet always uttered gently
with a smile of joy upon the face. I saw his figure standing over me,
outlined against the starry sky; and, deeply stirred, I listened with
delight and wonder. Rhythm surely lies behind all expression of life.
He was on the heels of some simple, dazzling verity though he phrased it
wildly. But not a tenth part of all he said could I recapture afterwards
for writing down. The steady, gentle swaying of his body I remember
clearly, and that somewhere or other in the stream of language, he made
apt reference to the rhythmical swaying of those who speak in trance, or
know some strange, possessing gust of inspiration.
The first and natural expression of the Earth's vitality lies in a
dancing movement of purest joy and happiness--that for me is the gist of
what remains. Those near enough to Nature feel it. I myself remembered
days in spring ... my thoughts, borne upon some sweet emotion, traveled
"And not of the Earth alone," he interrupted my dreaming in a voice
like singing, "but of the entire Universe. The spheres and
constellations weave across the fields of ether the immense old rhythm of
their divine, eternal dance...!"
Then, with a disconcerting abruptness, and a strange little wayward
laugh as of apology for having let himself so freely go, he sat down
beside me with his back against the chimney-stack. He resumed more
quietly the account of this particular adventure that lay 'twixt dream
All that he described had happened in a few seconds. It flashed,
complete, authoritative and vivid, then passed away. He knew again the
call and warning of his body--to return. For this consciousness of being
in two places at once, divided as it were against himself, brought with
it the necessity for decision. With which portion should he identify
himself? By an act of will, it seemed, a choice was possible.
And with it, then, came the knowledge that to remain "out" was easier
than to return. This time, to come back into himself would be difficult.
The very possibility seemed to provide the shock of energy necessary
for overcoming it; the experience alarmed him; it was like holding an
option upon living--like a foretaste of death. Automatically, as it were,
these loosened forces in him answered to the body's summons. The
result was immediate and singular; one of these Dancing outlines
separated itself from the main herd, approached with a sudden silent
rush, enveloped him for a second of darkness and confusion, losing its
shape completely on the way, and then merged into his being as smoke
slips in and merges with the structure of a tree.
The projected portion of his personality had returned. The sense of
division was gone. There remained behind only the little terror of the
weak flesh whose summons had thus brought it back.
The same instant he was fully awake--the night about him empty
of all but the silver dreaming of the moon among the shadows. Beside
him lay the sleeping figure of his companion, the bashlik of lamb's wool
drawn closely down about the ears and neck, and the voluminous black
burka shrouding him from feet to shoulders. A little distance away the
horse stood, munching grass. Again he noted that there was no wind,
and the shadows of the trees lay motionless upon the ground. The air
smelt sweet of forest, soil, and dew.
The experience--it seemed now--belonged to dreaming rather than
to waking consciousness, for there was nothing about him to confirm
it outwardly. Only the memory remained--that, and a vast, deep-coursing,
subtle happiness. The smaller terror that he felt was of the flesh
alone, for the flesh ever instinctively fought against such separation.
The happiness, though, contained and overwhelmed the fear.
Yes, only the memory remained, and even that fast fading. But the
substance of what had been, passed into his inmost being: the splendor
of that would remain forever, incorporated with his life. He had shared
in this brief moment of extended consciousness some measure of the
Mother's cosmic being, simple as sunshine, unrestrained as wind, complete
and satisfying. Its natural expression was rhythmical, a deep, pure
joy that drove outwards even into little human conditions as dancing
and singing. He had known it, too, with companions of his kind...
Moreover, though no longer visible or audible, it still continued
somewhere close. He was blessedly companioned all the time--and
watched. _They_ knew him one of themselves--these brother expressions
of her cosmic life--these _Urwelt_ beings that Today had no external,
bodily forms. They waited, knowing well that he would come. Fulfillment
beckoned surely just beyond...
"... And then suddenly,--
While perhaps twice my heart was dutiful
To send my blood upon its little race--
I was exalted above surety,
And out of Time did fall."
--LASCELLES ABERCROMBIE, _Poems and Interludes_
This, then, was one of the "hints" by which O'Malley knew that he
was not alone and that the mind of his companion was stretched out
to find him. He became aware after it of a distinct guidance, even of
direction as to his route of travel. The "impulse came," as one says, to
turn northwards, and he obeyed it without more ado. For this "dream"
had come to him when camped upon the slopes of Ararat, further south
toward the Turkish frontier, and though all prepared to climb the
sixteen-thousand foot summit, he changed his plans, dismissed the local
guide, and turned back for Tiflis and the Central Range. In the wilder,
lonelier mountains, he felt strongly, was where he ought to be.
Another man, of course, would have dismissed the dream or forgotten
it while cooking his morning coffee; but, rightly or wrongly, this
divining Celt accepted it as real. He held an instinctive belief, that in
dreams of a certain order the forces that drive behind the soul at a
given moment, may reveal themselves to the subconscious self, becoming
authoritative in proportion as they are sanely encouraged and
interpreted. They dramatize themselves in scenes that are open to
intuitive interpretation. And O'Malley, it seems, possessed, like the
Hebrew prophets of old, just that measure of judgment and divination
which go to the making of a true clear-vision.
Packing up kit and dunnage, he crossed the Georgian Military Route
on foot to Vladikavkaz, and thence with another horse and a Mohammedan
Georgian as guide, Rostom by name, journeyed _via_ Alighir and Oni up a
side valley of unforgettable splendor toward an Imerethian hamlet where
they meant to lay-in supplies for a prolonged expedition into the
And here, the second occurrence he told me of took place. It was more
direct than the first, yet equally strange; also it brought a similar
authority--coming first along the deep mysterious underpaths of
sleep--sleep, that short cut into the subconscious.
They were camped among low boxwood trees, a hot dry night, wind soft and
stars very brilliant, when the Irishman turned in his sleeping-bag
and abruptly woke. This time there was no dream--only the certainty that
something had wakened him deliberately. He sat up, almost with a cry. It
was exactly as though he heard himself called by name and recognized the
voice that spoke it. He looked quickly round. Nothing but the crowding
army of the box-trees was visible, some bushy and round, others
straggling in their outline, all whispering gently together in the night.
Beyond ran the immense slopes, and far overhead he saw the gleaming snow
on peaks that brushed the stars.
No one was visible. This time no flying figures danced beneath the
moon. There was, indeed, no moon. Something, however, he knew had
come up close and touched him, calling him from the depths of a
profound and tired slumber. It had withdrawn again, vanished into the
night. The strong certainty remained, though, that it lingered near about
him still, trying to press forwards and outwards into some kind of
objective visible expression that _included himself_. He had responded
with an effort in his sleep, but the effort had been unsuccessful. He had
merely waked ... and lost it.
The horse, tethered a few feet away, was astir and troubled, straining
at the rope, whinnying faintly, and Rostom, the Georgian peasant, he
saw, was already up to quiet it. A curious perfume passed him through
the air--once, then vanished; unforgettable, however, for he had known
it already weeks ago upon the steamer. And before the gardened woods
about him smothered it with their richer smells of a million flowers
and weeds, he recognized in it that peculiar pungent whiff of horse that
had reached him from the haunted cabin. This time it was less fleeting--a
fine, clean odor that he liked even while it strangely troubled him.
Kicking out of his blankets, he joined the man and helped to
straighten out the tangled rope. Rostom spoke little Russian, and
O'Malley's knowledge of Georgian lay in a single phrase, "Look sharp!"
but with the aid of French the man had learned from shooting-parties,
he gathered that some one had approached during the night and
camped, it seemed, not far away above them.
Though unusual enough in so unfrequented a region, this was not
necessarily alarming, and the first proof O'Malley had that the man
experienced no ordinary physical fear was the fact that he had left both
knife and rifle in his blankets. Hitherto, at the least sign of danger,
he changed into a perfect arsenal; he invariably slept "in his weapons";
but now, even in the darkness, the other noted that he was unarmed, and
therefore it was no attempt at horse-stealing or of assault upon
themselves he feared.
"Who is it? What is it?" he asked, stumbling over the tangle of
string-like roots that netted the ground. "Natives, travelers like
ourselves, or--something else?" He spoke very low, as though aware that
what had waked him still hovered close enough to overhear. "Why do you
And Rostom looked up a moment from stooping over the rope. He stepped a
little nearer, avoiding the animal's hoofs. In a confused whisper of
French and Russian, making at the same time the protective signs of his
religion, he muttered a sentence of which the other caught little more
than the unassuring word that something was about them close--something
"_méchant_." This curious, significant word he used.
The whispered utterance, the manner that went with it, surely the dark
and lonely setting of the little scene as well, served to convey the
full suggestion of the adjective with a force the man himself could
scarcely have intended. Something had passed by, not so much evil,
wicked, or malign as strange and alien--uncanny. Rostom, a man utterly
careless of physical danger, rising to it, rather, with delight, was
frightened--in his soul.
"What do you mean?" O'Malley asked louder, with an air of impatience
assumed. The man was on his knees, but whether praying, or merely
struggling with the rope, was hard to see. "What is it you're talking
about so foolishly?" He spoke with a confidence he hardly felt himself.
And the involved reply, spoken with lips against the earth, the head
but slightly turned as he knelt, again smothered the words. Only the
curious phrase came to him--"_de l'ancien monde_--_quelque-chose_--"
The Irishman took him by the shoulders. Not meaning actually to shake
him, he yet must have used some violence, for the fact was that he did
not like the answers and sought to deny some strong emotion in himself.
The man stood up abruptly with a kind of sudden spring. The expression of
his face was not easily divined in the darkness, but a gleam of the eyes
was clearly visible. It may have been anger, it may have been terror;
vivid excitement it certainly was.
"Something--old as the stones, old as the stones," he whispered,
thrusting his dark bearded face unpleasantly close. "Such things are in
these mountains.... _Mais oui! C'est moi qui vous le dis!_ Old as the
stones, I tell you. And sometimes they come out close--with sudden wind.
He stepped back again sharply and dropped upon his knees, bowing
to the ground with flattened palms. He made a repelling gesture as
though it was O'Malley's presence that brought the experience.
"And to see them is--to die!" he heard, muttered against the ground
thickly. "To see them is to die!"
The Irishman went back to his sleeping-bag. Some strange passion of
the man was deeply stirred; he did not wish to offend his violent beliefs
and turn it against himself in a stupid, scrambling fight. He lay and
waited. He heard the muttering of the deep voice behind him in the
darkness. Presently it ceased. Rostom came softly back to bed.
"_He_ knows; _he_ warned me!" he whispered, jerking one hand toward the
horse significantly, as they at length lay again side by side in their
blankets and the stars shone down upon them from a deep black sky.
"But, for the moment, they have passed, not finding us. No wind has
"Another--horse?" asked O'Malley suggestively, with a sympathy
meant to quiet him.
But the peasant shook his head; and this time it was not difficult to
divine the expression on his face even in the darkness. At the same
moment the tethered animal again uttered a long whinnying cry, plaintive,
yet of pleasure rather than alarm it seemed, which instantly brought
the man again with a leap from the blankets to his knees. O'Malley did
not go to help him; he stuffed the clothes against his ears and waited;
he did not wish to hear the peasant's sentences.
And this pantomime went on at intervals for an hour or more, when
at length the horse grew quiet and O'Malley snatched moments of
unrefreshing sleep. The night lay thick about them with a silence like
the silence of the sky. The boxwood bushes ran together into a single
sheet of black, the far peaks faded out of sight, the air grew keen and
sharp toward the dawn on the wave of wind the sunrise drives before it
round the world. But to and fro across the Irishman's mind as he lay
between sleep and dozing ran the feeling that his friends were close, and
that those dancing forms of cosmic life to which all three approximated
had come near once more to summon him. He also knew that what the
horse had felt was something far from terror. The animal instinctively
had divined the presence of something to which it, too, was remotely
Rostom, however, remained keenly on the alert, much of the time
apparently praying. Not once did he touch the weapons that lay ready
to hand upon the folded burka ... and when at last the dawn came, pale
and yellow, through the trees, showing the outlines of the individual box
and azalea bushes, he got up earlier than usual and began to make the
fire for coffee. In the fuller light which soon poured swiftly over the
eastern summits and dropped gold and silver into the tremendous valley at
their feet, the men made a systematic search of the immediate
surroundings, and then of the clearings and more open stretches beyond.
In silence they made it. They found, however, no traces of another
camping-party. And it was clear from the way they went about the search
that neither expected to find anything. The ground was unbroken, the
Yet still, both knew. That "something" which the night had brought
and kept concealed, still hovered close about them.
And it was at this scattered hamlet, consisting of little more than
a farm of sorts and a few shepherds' huts of stone, where they stopped
two hours later for provisions, that O'Malley looked up thus suddenly
and recognized the figure of his friend. He stood among the trees a
hundred yards away. At first the other thought he was a tree--his
stalwart form the stem, his hair and beard the branches--so big and
motionless he stood between the other trunks. O'Malley saw him for a full
minute before he understood. The man seemed so absolutely a part of the
landscape, a giant detail in keeping with the rest--a detail that had
The same moment a great draught of wind, rising from depths of the
valley below, swept overhead with a roaring sound, shaking the beech
and box trees and setting all the golden azalea heads in a sudden
agitation. It passed as swiftly as it came. The peace of the June morning
again descended on the mountains.
It was broken by a wild, half-smothered cry,--a cry of genuine terror.
For O'Malley had turned to Rostom with some word that here, in this
figure, lay the explanation of the animal's excitement in the night,
when he saw that the peasant, white as chalk beneath the tangle of black
hair that covered his face, had stopped dead in his tracks. His mouth
was open, his arms upraised to shield; he was staring fixedly in the same
direction as himself. The next instant he was on his knees, bowing and
scraping toward Mecca, groaning, hiding his eyes with both hands. The
sack he held had toppled over; the cheese and flour rolled upon the
ground; and from the horse came that long-drawn whinnying of the
There was a momentary impression--entirely in the Irishman's mind, of
course,--that the whole landscape veiled a giant, rushing movement that
passed across it like a wave. The surface of the earth, it seemed, ran
softly quivering, as though that wind had stirred response together with
the trembling of the million leaves ... before it settled back again to
stillness. It passed in the flash of an eyelid. The earth lay tranquil in
But, though the suddenness of the stranger's arrival might conceivably
have startled the ignorant peasant, with nerves already overwrought
from the occurrence of the night, O'Malley was not prepared for the
violence of the man's terror as shown by the immediate sequel. For after
several moments' prayer and prostration, with groans half smothered
against the very ground, he sprang impetuously to his feet again, turned
to his employer with eyes that gleamed wildly in that face of chalk,
cried out--the voice thick with the confusion of his fear--"It is the
Wind! _They_ come; from the mountains _they_ come! Older than the stones
they are. Save yourself.... Hide your eyes ... fly...!"--and was gone.
Like a deer he went. He waited neither for food nor payment, but flung
the great black burka round his face--and ran.
And to O'Malley, bereft of all power of movement as he watched in
complete bewilderment, one thing seemed clear: the man went in this
extraordinary fashion because he was afraid of something he had _felt_,
not seen. For as he ran with wild and leaping strides, he did not run
away from the figure. He took the direction straight toward the spot
where the stranger still stood motionless as a tree. So close he passed
him that he must almost have brushed his very shoulder. He did not
The last thing the Irishman noted was that in his violence the man
had dropped the yellow bashlik from his head. O'Malley saw him stoop
with a flying rush to pick it up. He seemed to catch it as it fell.
And then the big figure moved. He came slowly forward from among
the trees, his hands outstretched in greeting, on his great visage a
shining smile of welcome that seemed to share the sunrise. In that moment
for the Irishman all was forgotten as though unknown, unseen, save the
feelings of extraordinary happiness that filled him to the brim.
"The poets are thus liberating gods. The ancient British bards had for
the title of their order, 'Those who are free throughout the world.' They
are free, and they make free. An imaginative book renders us much more
service at first, by stimulating us through its tropes, than afterward,
when we arrive at the precise sense of the author. I think nothing is of
any value in books, excepting the transcendental and extraordinary. If a
man is inflamed and carried away by his thought, to that degree that he
forgets the authors and the public, and heeds only this one dream, which
holds him like an insanity, let me read his paper, and you may have all
the arguments and histories and criticism."
To criticize, deny, perhaps to sneer, is no very difficult or uncommon
function of the mind, and the story as I first heard him tell it,
lying there in the grass beyond the Serpentine that summer evening,
roused in me, I must confess, all of these very ordinary faculties. Yet,
as I listened to his voice that mingled with the rustle of the poplars
overhead, and watched his eager face and gestures, it came to me dimly
that a man's mistakes may be due to his attempting bigger things than
his little critic ever dreamed perhaps. And gradually I shared the vision
that this unrhyming poet by my side had somehow lived out in action.
Inner experience for him was ever the reality--not the mere forms
or deeds that clothe it in partial physical expression.
There was no question, of course, that he had actually met this big,
inarticulate Russian on the steamer; that Stahl's part in the account was
unvarnished; that the boy had fallen on the deck from heart disease; and
that, after an interval, chance had brought O'Malley and the father
together again in this valley of the Central Caucasus. All that was as
literal as the superstitious terror of the Georgian peasant. Further,
that the Russian possessed precisely those qualities of powerful sympathy
with the other's hidden longings which the subtle-minded Celt had been
so quick to appropriate--this, too, was literal enough. Here, doubtless,
was the springboard whence he leaped into the stream of this
quasi-spiritual adventure with an eagerness of fine, whole-hearted belief
which must make this dull world a very wonderful place indeed to those
who know it; for it is the visioned faculty of correlating the commonest
event with the procession of august Powers that pass ever to and fro
behind life's swaying curtain, and of divining in the most ordinary of
yellow buttercups the golden fires of a dropped star.
Again, for Terence O'Malley there seemed no definite line that marked off
one state of consciousness from another, just as there seems no given
instant when a man passes actually from sleep to waking, from pleasure to
pain, from joy to grief. There is, indeed, no fixed threshold between the
states of normal and abnormal consciousness. In this stranger he imagined
a sense of companionship that by some magic of alchemy transformed his
deep loneliness into joy, and satisfied his passionate yearnings by
bringing their subjective fulfillment within range. To have found
acceptance in his sight was thus a revolutionary fact in his existence.
While a part of my mind may have labeled it all as creative imagination,
another part recognized it as plainly true--because his being lived it
out without the least denial.
He, at any rate, was not inventing; nor ever knew an instant's doubt.
He simply told me what had happened. The discrepancies--the omissions
in his written account especially--were simply due, I feel, to the
fact that his skill in words was not equal to the depth and brilliance of
the emotions that he experienced. But the fact remains: he did experience
them. His fairy tale convinced.
His faith had made him whole--one with the Earth. The sense of
disunion between his outer and his inner self was gone.
And now, as these two began their journey together into the wilder
region of these stupendous mountains, O'Malley says he realized clearly
that the change he had dreaded as an "inner catastrophe" simply would
mean the complete and final transfer of his consciousness from the
"without" to the "within." It would involve the loss only of what
constituted him a person among the external activities of the world
today. He would lose his life to find it. The deeper self thus quickened
by the stranger must finally assert its authority over the rest. To join
these Urwelt beings and share their eternal life of beauty close to the
Earth herself, he must shift the center. Only thus could he enter the
state before the "Fall"--that ancient Garden of the World-Soul, walled-in
so close behind his daily life--and know deliverance from the discontent
of modern conditions that so distressed him.
To do this temporarily, perhaps, had long been possible to him--in
dream, in reverie, in those imaginative trances when he almost seemed
to leave his body altogether; but to achieve it permanently was something
more than any such passing disablement of the normal self. It involved,
he now saw clearly, that which he had already witnessed in the boy: the
final release of his Double in so-called death.
Thus, as they made their way northwards, nominally toward the mighty
Elbruz and the borders of Swanetia, the Irishman knew in his heart that
they in reality came nearer to the Garden long desired, and to those
lofty Gates of horn and ivory that hitherto he had never found--because
he feared to let himself go. Often he had camped beneath the walls, had
smelt the flowers, heard the songs, and even caught glimpses of the life
that moved so gorgeously within. But the Gates themselves had never shone
for him, even against the sky of dream, because his vision had been
clouded by alarm. They swung, it had seemed to him before, in only one
direction--for those who enter: he had always hesitated, lost his way,
returned.... And many, like him, make the same mistake. Once in, there
need be no return, for in reality the walls spread outwards and--enclose
the entire world.
Civilization and Humanity, the man of smaller vision had called out
to him as passwords to safety. Simplicity and Love, he now discovered,
were the truer clues. His big friend in silence taught him. Now he knew.
For in that little hamlet their meeting had taken place--in silence.
No actual speech had passed. "You go--so?" the Russian conveyed by
a look and by a movement of his whole figure, indicating the direction;
and to the Irishman's assenting inclination of the head he made an
answering gesture that merely signified compliance with a plan already
known to both. "We go, together then." And, there and then, they
started, side by side.
The suddenness of this concerted departure only seemed strange afterwards
when O'Malley looked back upon it, for at the time it seemed as
inevitable as being obliged to swim once the dive is taken. He stood
upon a pinnacle whence lesser details were invisible; he knew a kind of
exaltation--of loftier vision. Small facts that ordinarily might fill the
day with trouble sank below the horizon then. He did not even notice
that they went without food, horse, or blankets. It was reckless,
unrestrained, and utterly unhindered, this free setting-forth together.
Thus might he have gone upon a journey with the wind, the sunshine, or
the rain. Departure with a thought, a dream, a fancy could not have been
The only detail of his outer world that lingered--and that, already
sinking out of sight like a stone into deep water--was the image of the
running peasant. For a moment he recalled the picture. He saw the man
in the act of stooping after the fallen bashlik. He saw him seize it,
lift it to his head again. But the picture was small--already very far
away. Before the bashlik actually reached the head, the detail dipped
into mist and vanished....
It was spring--and the flutes of Pan played everywhere. The radiance
of the world's first morning shone undimmed. Life flowed and sang and
danced, abundant and untamed. It bathed the mountains and that sky of
stainless blue. It bathed him too. Dipped, washed, and shining in it, he
walked the Earth as she lay radiant in her early youth. The crystal
presence of her everlasting Spring flew laughing through a world of light
and flowers--flowers that none could ever pluck to die, light that could
never fade to darkness within walls and roofs.
All day they wound easily, as though on winged feet, through the steep
belt of box and beech woods, and in sparkling brilliant heat across
open spaces where the azaleas shone; a cooling wind, fresh as the dawn,
seemed ever to urge them forwards. The country, for all its huge scale
and wildness, was park-like; the giant, bushy trees wore an air of being
tended by the big winds that ran with rustling music among their waving
foliage. Between the rhododendrons were avenues of turf, broad-gladed
pathways, yet older than the moon, from which a thousand gardeners
of wind and dew had gone but a moment before to care for others
further on. Over all brimmed up some primal, old-world beauty of a
simple life--some immemorial soft glory of the dawn.
Closer and closer, deeper and deeper, ever swifter, ever more direct,
O'Malley passed down toward the heart of his mother's being. Along
the tenderest pathways of his inner being, so wee, so soft, so simple
that for most men they lie ignored or overgrown, he slipped with joy a
little nearer--one stage perhaps--toward Reality.
Pan "blew in power" across these Caucasian heights and valleys.
Sweet, sweet, sweet, O Pan!
Piercing sweet by the river!
Blinding sweet, O great god Pan!
The sun on the hill forgot to die,
And the lilies revived, and the dragon-fly
Came back to dream on the river
In front his big leader, no longer blundering clumsily as on that toy
steamer with the awkward and lesser motion known to men, pressed
forward with a kind of giant sure supremacy along paths he knew, or
rather over a trackless, pathless world which the great planet had
charted lovingly for his splendid feet. That wind, blowing from the
depths of valleys left long since behind, accompanied them wisely. They
heard, not the faint horns of Elfland faintly blowing, but the blasts of
the _Urwelt_ trumpets growing out of the still distance, nearer, ever
nearer. For leagues below the beech woods poured over the enormous slopes
in a sea of soft green foam, and through the meadow spaces they saw the
sweet nakedness of running water, and listened to its song. At noon they
rested in the greater heat, sleeping beneath the shadow of big rocks; and
sometimes traveled late into the night, when the stars guided them and
they knew the pointing of the winds. The very moonlight then, that
washed this lonely world with silver, sheeting the heights of snow
beyond, was friendly, half divine ... and it seemed to O'Malley that
while they slept they were watched and cared for--as though Others
who awaited had already come halfway out to meet them.
And ever, more and more, the passion of his happiness increased; he
knew himself complete, fulfilled, made whole. It was as though his Self
were passing outwards into hundreds of thousands, and becoming
countless as the sand. He was everywhere; in everything; shining,
singing, dancing.... With the ancient woods he breathed; slipped with the
streams down the still darkened valleys; called from each towering
summit to the Sun; and flew with all the winds across the immense,
untrodden slopes. About him lay this whole spread being of the flowered
Caucasus, huge and quiet, drinking in the sunshine at its leisure. But it
lay also _within_ himself, for his expanding consciousness included and
contained it. Through it--this early potent Mood of Nature--he passed
toward the Soul of the Earth within, even as a child, caught by a mood of
winning tenderness in its mother, passes closer to the heart that gave it
birth. Some central love enwrapped him. He knew the surrounding power of
"Inward, ay, deeper far than love or scorn,
Deeper than bloom of virtue, stain of sin,
Rend thou the veil and pass alone within,
Stand naked there and know thyself forlorn.
Nay! in what world, then, spirit, vast thou born?
Or to what World-Soul art thou entered in?
Feel the Self fade, feel the great life begin.
With Love re-rising in the cosmic morn.
The Inward ardor yearns to the inmost goal;
The endless goal is one with the endless way;
From every gulf the tides of Being roll,
From every zenith burns the indwelling day,
And life in Life has drowned thee and soul in Soul;
And these are God and thou thyself art they."
--F.W.H. MYERS. From "A Cosmic Outlook"
The account of what followed simply swept me into fairyland, yet a
Fairyland that is true because it lives in every imaginative heart that
does not dream itself shut off from the Universe in some wee compartment
If O'Malley's written account, and especially his tumbled notebooks,
left me bewildered and confused, the fragments that he told me brought
this sense of an immense, sweet picture that actually existed. I caught
small scenes of it, set in some wild high light. Their very incoherence
conveyed the gorgeous splendor of the whole better than any neat ordered
sequence could possibly have done.
Climax, in the story-book meaning, there was none. The thing flowed
round and round forever. A sense of something eternal wrapped me as
I listened; for his imagination set the whole adventure out of time and
space, and I caught myself dreaming too. "A thousand years in His
sight"--I understood the old words as refreshingly new--might be a day.
Thus felt that monk, perhaps, for whose heart a hundred years had passed
while he listened to the singing of a little bird.
My practical questions--it was only at the beginning that I was dull
enough to ask them--he did not satisfy, because he could not. There
was never the least suggestion of the artist's mere invention.
"You really felt the Earth about and in you," I had asked, "much as
one feels the presence of a friend and living person?"
"Drowned in her, yes, as in the thoughts and atmosphere of some one
awfully loved." His voice a little trembled as he said it.
"So speech unnecessary?"
"Impossible--fatal," was the laconic, comprehensive reply, "limiting:
That, at least, I grasped: the pitifulness of words before that love by
which self goes wholly lost in the being of another, adrift yet cared
for, gathered all wonderfully in.
"And your Russian friend--your leader?" I ventured, haltingly.
His reply was curiously illuminating:--
"Like some great guiding Thought within her mind--some flaming
_motif_--interpreting her love and splendor--leading me straight."
"As you felt at Marseilles, a clue--a vital clue?" For I remembered
the singular phrase he had used in the notebook.
"Not a bad word," he laughed; "certainly, as far as it goes, not a wrong
one. For he--_it_--was at the same time within myself. We merged, as
our life grew and spread. We swept things along with us from the banks.
We were in flood together," he cried. "We drew the landscape with us!"
The last words baffled me; I found no immediate response. He pushed
away the plates on the table before us, where we had been lunching in
the back room of a dingy Soho restaurant. We now had the place to
ourselves. He drew his chair a little nearer.
"Don't ye see--our journey also was _within_," he added abruptly.
The pale London sunlight came through the window across chimneys,
dreary roofs, courtyards. Yet where it touched his face it seemed at
once to shine. His voice was warm and eager. I caught from him, as it
were, both heat and light.
"You moved actually, though, over country--?"
"While at the same time we moved within, advanced, sank deeper,"
he returned; "call it what you will. Our condition moved. There was this
correspondence between the two. Over her face we walked, yet into her
as well. We 'traveled' with One greater than ourselves, both caught and
merged in her, in utter sympathy with one another as with herself..."
This stopped me dead. I could not pretend more than a vague sympathetic
understanding with such descriptions of a mystical experience. Nor, it
was clear, did he expect it of me. Even his own heart was troubled, and
he knew he spoke of things that only few may deal with sanely, still
fewer hear with patience.
But, oh, that little room in Greek Street smelt of forests, dew, and
dawn as he told it,--that dear wayward Child of Earth! For "his voice
fell, like music that makes giddy the dim brain, faint with intoxication
of keen joy." I watched those delicate hands he spread about him
through the air; the tender, sensitive lips, the light blue eyes that
glowed. I noted the real strength in the face,--a sort of nobility it
was--his shabby suit of grey, his tie never caught properly in the
collar, the frayed cuffs, and the enormous boots he wore even in
London--"policeman boots" as we used to call them with a laugh.
So vivid was the picture that he painted! Almost, it seemed, I knew
myself the pulse of that eternal Spring beneath our feet, beating in vain
against the suffocating weight of London's bricks and pavements laid
by civilization--the Earth's delight striving to push outwards into
visible form as flowers. She flashed some scrap of meaning thus into
me, though blunted on the way, I fear, and crudely paraphrased.
Yes, as he talked across the airless gloom of that little back room, in
some small way I caught the splendor of his vision. Behind the words,
I caught it here and there. My own wee world extended. My being stretched
to understand him and to net in fugitive fragments the scenes of wonder
that he knew complete.
Perhaps his larger consciousness fringed my own to "bruise" it, as he
claimed the Earth had done to him, so that I glimpsed in tinier measure
an experience that in himself blazed whole and thundering. It was, I
must admit, exalting and invigorating, if a little breathless; and the
return to streets and omnibuses painful--a descent to ugliness and
disappointment. For things I can hardly understand now, even in my
own descriptions of them, seemed at the time quite clear--or clear-ish
at any rate. Whereas normally I could never have compassed them at all.
It taught me: that, at least, I know. In some spiritual way I quickened
to the view that all great teaching really comes in some such curious
fashion--via a temporary stretching or extension of the "heart" to
receive it. The little normal self is pushed aside to make room, even to
the point of loss, in order to contain it. Later, the consciousness
contracts again. But it has expanded--and there has been growth. Was
this, I wondered, perhaps what mystics speak of when they say the
personal life must slip aside, be trampled on, submerged, before there
can be room for the divine Presences...?
At any rate, as he talked there over coffee that grew cold and cigarette
smoke that made the air yet thicker than it naturally was, his words
conveyed with almost grandeur of conviction this reality of a profound
inner experience. I shared in some faint way its truth and beauty, so
that when I saw it in his written form I marveled to find the thing so
thin and cold and dwindled. The key his personal presence supplied, of
guidance and interpretation, of course was gone.
"Why, what is this patient entrance into Nature's deep resources
But the child's most gradual learning to walk upright without bane?
When we drive out, from the cloud of steam, majestical white horses,
Are we greater than the first men who led black ones by the mane?"
The "Russian" led.
O'Malley styled him thus to the end for want of a larger word, perhaps--a
word to phrase the inner and the outer. Although the mountains were
devoid of trails, he seemed always certain of his way. An absolute
sense of orientation possessed him; or, rather, the whole earth became
a single pathway. Her being, in and about their hearts, concealed no
secrets; he knew the fresh, cool water-springs as surely as the corners
where the wild honey gathered. It seemed as natural that the bees should
leave them unmolested, giving them freely of their store, as that the
savage dogs in the aouls, or villages, they passed so rarely now, should
refrain from attack. Even the peasants shared with them some common,
splendid life. Occasionally they passed an Ossetian on horseback, a rifle
swung across his saddle, a covering burka draping his shoulders and the
animal's haunches in a single form that seemed a very outgrowth of the
mountains. But not even a greeting was exchanged. They passed in silence;
often very close, as though they did not see these two on foot. And once
or twice the horses reared and whinnied, while their riders made the
signs of their religion.... Sentries they seemed. But for the password
known to both they would have stopped the travelers. In these forsaken
fastnesses mere unprotected wandering means death. Yet to the happy
Irishman there never came a thought of danger or alarm. All was a portion
of himself, and no man can be afraid of his own hands or feet. Their
convoy was immense, invisible, a guaranteed security of the vast Earth
herself. No little personal injury could pass so huge defense. Others,
armed with a lesser security of knives and guns and guides, would
assuredly have been turned back, or had they shown resistance, would
never have been heard to tell the tale. Dr. Stahl and the fur-merchant,
But such bothering little thoughts with their hard edges no longer
touched reality; they spun away and found no lodgment; they were--untrue;
false items of some lesser world unrealized.
For, in proportion as he fixed his thoughts successfully on outward and
physical things, the world wherein he now walked grew dim: he missed the
path, stumbled, saw trees and flowers indistinctly, failed to hear
properly the call of birds and wind, to feel the touch of sun; and,
most unwelcome of all,--was aware that his leader left him, dwindling
in size, dropping away somehow among shadows far behind or far ahead.
The inversion was strangely complete: what men called solid, real, and
permanent he now knew as the veriest shadows of existence, fleeting,
Their dreary make-believe had all his life oppressed him. He now knew
why. Men, driving their forces outwards for external possessions had lost
the way so utterly. It truly was amazing. He no longer quite understood
how such feverish strife was possible to intelligent beings: the
fur-merchant, the tourists, his London friends, the great majority of
men and women he had known, pain in their hearts and weariness in
their eyes, the sad strained faces, the furious rush to catch a little
pleasure they deemed joy. It seemed like some wild senseless game that
madness plays. He found it difficult to endow them, one and all, with any
sense of life. He saw them groping in thick darkness, snatching with
hands of shadow at things of even thinner shadow, all moving in a wild
and frantic circle of artificial desires, while just beyond, absurdly
close to many, blazed this great living sunshine of Reality and Peace and
Beauty. If only they would turn--and look _within_--!
In fleeting moments these sordid glimpses of that dark and shadow-world
still afflicted his outer sight--the nightmare he had left behind. It
played like some gloomy memory through a corner of consciousness not yet
wholly disentangled from it. Already he burned to share his story with
the world...! A few he saw who here and there half turned, touched by a
flashing ray--then rushed away into the old blackness as though
frightened, not daring to escape. False images thrown outward by the
intellect prevented. Stahl he saw ... groping; a soft light of yearning
in his eyes ... a hand outstretched to push the shadows from him, yet
ever gathering them instead.... Men he saw by the million, youth still in
their hearts, yet slaving in darkened trap-like cages not merely to earn
a competency but to pile more gold for things not really wanted; faces
of greed round gambling-tables; the pandemonium of Exchanges; even fair
women, playing Bridge through all a summer afternoon--the strife and lust
and passion for possessions degrading every heart, choking the channels
of simplicity.... Over the cities of the world he heard the demon
Civilization sing its song of terror and desolation. Its music of
destruction shook the nations. He saw the millions dance. And mid the
bewildering ugly thunder of that sound few could catch the small sweet
voice played by the Earth upon the little Pipes of Pan... the fluting
call of Nature to the Simple Life--which is the Inner.
For now, as he moved closer to the Earth, deeper ever deeper into the
enfolding moods of her vast collective consciousness, he drew nearer
to the Reality that satisfies. He approached that center where outward
activity is less, yet energy and vitality far greater--because it is at
rest. Here he met things halfway, as it were, _en route_ for the outer
physical world where they would appear later as "events," but not yet
emerged, still alive and breaking with their undischarged and natural
potencies. Modern life, he discerned, dealt only with these forces when
they had emerged, masquerading at the outer rim of life as complete
embodiments, whereas actually they are but partial and symbolical
expressions of their eternal prototypes behind. And men today were busy
at this periphery only, touch with the center lost, madly consumed with
the unimportant details that concealed the inner glory. It was the spirit
of the age to mistake the outer shell for the inner reality. He at last
understood the reason of his starved loneliness amid the stupid uproar
of latter-day life, why he distrusted "Civilization," and stood apart.
His yearnings were explained. His heart dwelt ever in the Golden Age of
the Earth's first youth, and at last--he was coming home.
Like mud settling in dirty water, the casual realities of that outer life
all sank away. He grew clear within, one with the primitive splendor,
beauty, grace of a fresh world. Over his inner self, flooding slowly the
passages and cellars, those subterranean ways that honeycomb the dim-lit
foundations of personality, this tide of power rose. Filling chamber
after chamber, melting down walls and ceiling, eating away divisions
softly and irresistibly, it climbed in silence, merging all moods and
disunion of his separate Selves into the single thing that made him
comprehensible to himself and able to know the Earth as Mother. He
saw himself whole; he knew himself divine. A strange tumult as of some
ecstasy of old remembrance invaded him. He dropped back into a more
spacious scale of time, long long ago when a month might be a moment,
or a thousand years pass round him as a single day....
The qualities of all the Earth lay too, so easily contained, within
himself. He understood that old legend by which man the microcosm
represents and sums up Earth, the macrocosm in himself, so that Nature
becomes the symbol and interpreter of his inner being. The strength
and dignity of the trees he drew into himself; the power of the wind was
his; with his unwearied feet ran all the sweet and facile swiftness of
the rivulets, and in his thoughts the graciousness of flowers, the wavy
softness of the grass, the peace of open spaces and the calm of that vast
sky. The murmur of the _Urwelt_ was in his blood, and in his heart the
exaltation of her golden Mood of Spring.
How, then, could speech be possible, since both shared this common life?
The communion with his friend and leader was too profound and perfect
for any stammering utterance in the broken, partial symbols known as
language. This was done for them: the singing of the birds, the
wind-voices, the rippling of water, the very humming of the myriad
insects even, and rustling of the grass and leaves, shaped all they felt
in some articulate expression that was right, complete, and adequate. The
passion of the larks set all the sky to music, and songs far sweeter than
the nightingales' made every dusk divine.
He understood now that laborious utterance of his friend upon the
steamer, and why his difficulty with words was more than he could
Like a current in the sea he still preserved identity, yet knew the
freedom of a boundless being. And meanwhile the tide was ever rising.
With this singular companion he neared that inner realization which
should reveal them as they were--Thoughts in the Earth's old
Consciousness too primitive, too far away, too vital and terrific to be
confined in any outward physical expression of the "civilized" world
today.... The earth shone, glittered, sang, holding them close to the
rhythm of her gigantic heart. Her glory was their own. In the blazing
summer of the inner life they floated, happy, caught away, at peace ...
emanations of her living Self.
* * * * *
The valleys far below were filled with mist, cutting them off literally
from the world of men, but the beauty of the upper mountains grew more
and more bewilderingly enticing. The scale was so immense, while the
brilliant clearness of the air brought distance close before the eyes,
altered perspective, and robbed "remote" and "near" of any definite
meaning. Space fled away. It shifted here and there at pleasure,
according as they felt. It was within them, not without. They passed,
dispersed and swift about the entire landscape, a very part of it,
diffused in terms of light and air and color, scattered in radiance,
distributed through flowers, spread through the sky and grass and
forests. Space is a form of thought. But they no longer "thought": they
felt.... O, that prodigious, clean, and simple Feeling of the Earth! Love
that redeems and satisfies! Power that fills and blesses! Electric
strength that kills the germ of separateness, making whole! The medicine
of the world!
For days and nights it was thus--or was it years and minutes?--while
they skirted the slopes and towers of the huge Dykh-Taou, and Elbrous,
supreme and lonely in the heavens, beckoned solemnly. The snowy
Kochtan-Taou rolled past, yet through, them; Kasbek superbly thundered;
hosts of lesser summits sang in the dawn and whispered to the
stars. And longing sank away--impossible.
"My boy, my boy, could you only have been with me...!" broke his
voice across the splendid dream, bringing me back to the choking, dingy
room I had forgotten. It was like a cry--a cry of passionate yearning.
"I'm with you now," I murmured, some similar rising joy half breaking in
my breast. "That's something--"
He sighed in answer. "Something, perhaps. But I have got it always; it's
all still part of me. Oh, oh! that I could give it to the world and lift
the ache of all humanity...!" His voice trembled. I saw the moisture of
immense compassion in his eyes. I felt myself swim out into universal
"Perhaps," I stammered half beneath my breath, "perhaps some day you
He shook his head. His face turned very sad.
"How should they listen, much less understand? Their energies drive
outwards, and separation is their God. There is no 'money in it'...!"
"Oh! whose heart is not stirred with tumultuous joy when the intimate
Life of Nature enters into his soul with all its plenitude, ... when that
mighty sentiment for which language has no other name than Love is
diffused in him, like some powerful all-dissolving vapor; when he,
shivering with sweet terror, sinks into the dusky, enticing bosom of
Nature; when the meager personality loses itself in the overpowering
waves of passion, and nothing remains but the focal point of the
incommensurable generative Force, an engulfing vortex in the ocean?"
--NOVALIS, _Disciples at Saïs._ Translated by U.C.B.
Early in the afternoon they left the bigger trees behind, and passed
into that more open country where the shoulders of the mountains were
strewn with rhododendrons. These formed no continuous forest, but
stood about in groups some twenty-five feet high, their rounded masses
lighted on the surface with fires of mauve and pink and purple. When
the wind stirred them, and the rattling of their stiff leaves was heard,
it seemed as if the skin of the mountains trembled to shake out colored
flames. The air turned radiant through a mist of running tints.
Still climbing, they passed along broad glades of turfy grass between
the groups. More rapidly now, O'Malley says, went forward that inner
change of being which accompanied the progress of their outer selves.
So intimate henceforth was this subtle correspondence that the very
landscape took the semblance of their feelings. They moved as
"emanations" of the landscape. Each melted in the other, dividing lines
Their union with the Earth approached this strange and sweet fulfillment.
And so it was that, though at this height the vestiges of bird and
animal life were wholly gone, there grew more and more strongly the
sense that, in their further depths and shadows, these ancient bushes
screened Activities even more ancient than themselves. Life, only
concealed because they had not reached its plane of being, pulsed
everywhere about their pathway, immense in power, moving swiftly, very
grand and very simple, and sometimes surging close, seeking to draw them
in. More than once, as they moved through glade and clearing, the
Irishman knew thrills of an intoxicating happiness, as this abundant,
driving life brushed past him. It came so close, it glided before his
eyes, yet still was viewless. It strode behind him and before, peered
down through space upon him, lapped him about with the stir of mighty
currents. The deep suction of its invitation caught his soul, urging the
change within himself more quickly forward. Huge and delightful, he
describes it, awful, yet bringing no alarm.
He was always on the point of seeing. Surely the next turning would
reveal; beyond the next dense, tangled group would come--disclosure;
behind that clustered mass of purple blossoms, shaking there mysteriously
in the wind, some half-veiled countenance of splendor watched
and welcomed! Before his face passed swift, deific figures, tall, erect,
compelling, charged with this ancient, golden life that could never
wholly pass away. And only just beyond the fringe of vision. Vision
already strained upon the edge. His consciousness stretched more and
more to reach them, while They came crowding near to let him know
These projections of the Earth's old consciousness moved thick and
soft about them, eternal in their giant beauty. Soon he would know,
perhaps, the very forms in which she had projected them--dear portions
of her streaming life the earliest races half divined and worshipped, and
never quite withdrawn. Worship could still entice them out. A single
worshipper sufficed. For worship meant retreat into the heart where still
they dwelt. And he had loved and worshipped all his life.
And always with him, now at his side or now a little in advance, his
leader moved in power, with vigorous, springing gestures like to dancing,
singing that old tuneless song of the wind, happier even than himself.
The splendor of the _Urwelt_ closed about them. They drew nearer to
the Gates of that old Garden, the first Time ever knew, whose frontiers
were not less than the horizons of the entire world. For this lost Eden
of a Golden Age when "first God dawned on chaos" still shone within
the soul as in those days of innocence before the "Fall," when men first
separated themselves from their great Mother.
A little before sunset they halted. A hundred yards above the
rhododendron forest, in a clear wide space of turf that ran for leagues
among grey boulders to the lips of the eternal snowfields, they waited.
Through a gap of sky, with others but slightly lower than himself, the
pyramid of Kasbek, grim and towering, stared down upon them, dreadfully
close though really miles away. At their feet yawned the profound
valley they had climbed. Halfway into it, unable to reach the depths,
the sun's last rays dropped shafts like rivers slanting. Already in soft
troops the shadows crept downwards from the eastern-facing summits
Out of these very shadows Night drew swiftly down about the world,
building with her masses of silvery architecture a barrier that rose to
heaven. These two lay down beside it. Beyond it spread that shining
Garden...only the shadow-barrier between.
With the rising of the moon this barrier softened marvelously, letting
the starbeams in. It trembled like a line of wavering music in the wind
of night. It settled downwards, shaking a little, toward the ground,
while just above them came a curving inwards like a bay of darkness, with
overhead two stately towers, their outline fringed with stars.
"The Gateway...!" whispered something through the mountains.
It may have been the leader's voice; it may have been the Irishman's own
leaping thought; it may have been merely a murmur from the rhododendron
leaves below. It came sifting gently through the shadows. O'Malley knew.
He followed his leader higher. Just beneath this semblance of an
old-world portal which Time could neither fashion nor destroy, they lay
upon the earth--and waited. Beside them shone the world, dressed by the
moon in silver. The wind stood still to watch. The peak of Kasbek from
his cloudy distance listened too.
For, floating upwards across the spaces came a sound of simple,
old-time piping--the fluting music of a little reed. It drew near,
stopped for a moment as though the player watched them; then, with a
plunging swiftness, passed off through starry distance up among the
darker mountains. The lost, forsaken Asian valley covered them. Nowhere
were they extraneous to it. They slept. And while they slept, they moved
across the frontiers of fulfillment.
The moon-blanched Gate of horn and ivory swung open. The consciousness
of the Earth possessed them. They passed within.
"For of old the Sun, our sire,
Came wooing the mother of men,
Earth, that was virginal then,
Vestal fire to his fire.
Silent her bosom and coy,
But the strong god sued and press'd;
And born of their starry nuptial joy
Are all that drink of her breast.
"And the triumph of him that begot,
And the travail of her that bore,
Behold they are evermore
As warp and weft in our lot.
We are children of splendor and flame,
Of shuddering, also, and tears.
Magnificent out of the dust we came,
And abject from the spheres.
"O bright irresistible lord!
We are fruit of Earth's womb, each one,
And fruit of thy loins, O Sun,
Whence first was the seed outpour'd.
To thee as our Father we bow,
Forbidden thy Father to see,
Who is older and greater than thou, as thou
Art greater and older than we."
--WILLIAM WATSON, "Ode in May"
Very slowly the dawn came. The sky blushed rose, trembled, flamed. A
breath of wind stirred the vapors that far below sheeted the surface
of the Black Sea. But it was still in that gentle twilight before
the actual color comes that O'Malley found he was lying with his eyes
wide open, watching the rhododendrons. He may have slept meanwhile,
though "sleep," he says, involving loss of consciousness, seemed no
right description. A sense of interval there was at any rate, a
"transition-blank,"--whatever that may mean--he phrased it in the
And, watching the rhododendron forest a hundred yards below, he saw it
move. Through the dim light this movement passed and ran, here, there,
and everywhere. A curious soft sound accompanied it that made him
remember the Bible phrase of wind "going in the tops of the mulberry
trees." Hushed, swift, elusive murmur, it passed about him through the
dusk. He caught it next behind him and, turning, noticed groups upon the
slopes,--groups that he had not seen the night before. These groups
seemed also now to move; the isolated scattered clusters came together,
merged, ran to the parent forest below, or melted just beyond the line of
The wind sprang up and rattled all the million leaves. That rattling
filled the air, and with it came another, deeper sound like to a sound
of tramping that seemed to shake the earth. Confusion caught him then
completely, for it was as if the mountain-side awoke, rose up, and shook
itself into a wild and multitudinous wave of life.
At first he thought the wind had somehow torn the rhododendrons loose
from their roots and was strewing them with that tramping sound about the
slopes. But the groups passed too swiftly over the turf for that, swept
completely from their fastenings, while the tramping grew to a roaring as
of cries and voices. That roaring had the quality of the voice that
reached him weeks ago across the Ægean Sea. A strange, keen odor, too,
that was not wholly unfamiliar, moved upon the wind.
And then he knew that what he had been watching all along were not
rhododendrons at all, but living, splendid creatures. A host of others,
moreover, large ones and small together, stood shadowy in the background,
stamping their feet upon the turf, manes tossing in the early wind, in
their entire mass awful as in their individual outline somehow noble.
The light spread upwards from the east. With a fire of terrible joy and
wonder in his heart, O'Malley held his breath and stared. The luster of
their glorious bodies, golden bronze in the sunlight, dazed the sight.
He saw the splendor of ten hundred velvet flanks in movement, with here
and there the uprising whiteness of a female outline that flashed and
broke above the general mass like foam upon a great wave's crest--figures
of incomparable grace and power; the sovereign, upright carriage; the
rippling muscles upon massive limbs, and shoulders that held defiant
strength and softness in exquisite combination. And then he heard huge
murmurs of their voices that filled the dawn, aged by lost thousand
years, and sonorous as the booming of the sea. A cry that was like
singing escaped him. He saw them rise and sweep away. There was
a rush of magnificence. They cantered--wonderfully. They were gone.
The roar of their curious commotion traveled over the mountains,
dying into distance very swiftly. The rhododendron forest that had
concealed their approach resumed its normal aspect, but burning now
with colors innumerable as the sunrise caught its thousand blossoms.
And O'Malley understood that during "sleep" he had passed with his
companion through the gates of ivory and horn, and stood now within
the first Garden of the early world. All frontiers crossed, all
barriers behind, he stood within the paradise of his heart's desire.
The Consciousness of the Earth included him. These were early forms
of life she had projected--some of the living prototypes of legend,
myth, and fable--embodiments of her first manifestations of
consciousness, and eternal, accessible to every heart that holds a
true and passionate worship. All his life this love of Nature, which
was worship, had been his. It now fulfilled itself. Merged by love
into the consciousness of the Being loved, he _felt_ her
thoughts, her powers, and manifestations of life as his own.
In a flash, of course, this all passed clearly before him; but there
was no time to dwell upon it. For the activity of his companion had
likewise become suddenly tremendous. He had risen into complete
revelation at last. His own had called him. He was off to join his
The transformation came upon both of them, it seems, at once, but
in that moment of bewilderment, the Irishman only realized it first in
For on the edge of the advancing sunlight first this Cosmic Being
crouched, then rose with alert and springing movement, leaping to his
feet in a single bound that propelled him with a stride of more than a
man's two limbs. His great sides quivered as he shook himself. A roar,
similar to that sound the distance already swallowed, rolled forth
into the air. With head thrown back, chest forward, too, for all the
backward slant of the mighty shoulders, he stood there, grandly
outlined, pushing the wind before him. The great brown eyes shone
with the joy of freedom and escape--a superb and regal transformation.
Urged by the audacity of his strange excitement, the Irishman obeyed
an impulse that came he knew not whence. The single word sprang to
his lips before he could guess its meaning, much less hold it back.
"Lapithae...!" he cried aloud; "Lapithae...!"
The stalwart figure turned with an awful spring as though it would
trample him to the ground. A moment the brown eyes flamed with a light of
battle. Then, with another roar, and a gesture that was somehow both huge
and simple, he seemed to rise and paw the air. The next second this
figure of the _Urwelt_, come once more into its own, bent down and
forward, leaped wonderfully--then, cantering, raced away across the
slopes to join his kind. He went like a shape of wind and cloud. The
heritage of racial memory was his, and certain words remained still
vividly evocative. That old battle with the Lapithae was but one item of
the scenes of ancient splendor lying pigeon-holed in his mighty Mother's
consciousness. The instant he had called, the Irishman himself lay caught
in lost memory's tumultuous whirl. The lonely world about him seemed of a
sudden magnificently peopled--sky, woods, and torrents.
He watched a moment the fierce rapidity with which he sped toward the
mountains, the sound of his feet already merged in that other, vaster
tramping, and then he turned--to watch himself. For a similar
transformation was going forward in himself, and with the happiness of
wild amazement he saw it. Already, indeed, it was accomplished. All white
and shining lay the sunlight over his own extended form. Power was in his
limbs; he rose above the ground in some new way; the usual little stream
of breath became a river of rushing air he drew into stronger, more
capacious lungs; likewise his bust grew strangely deepened, pushed the
wind before it; and the sunshine glowed on shaggy flanks agleam with dew
that powerfully drove the ground behind him while he ran.
He ran, yet only partly as a man runs; he found himself shot forwards
through the air, upright, yet at the same time upon all fours brandishing
his arms he flew with a free, unfettered motion, traversing the surface
of the mother's mind and body. Free of the entire Earth he was.
And as he raced to join the others, there passed again across his memory
faintly--it was like the little memory of some physical pain almost--the
picture of the boy who swam so strangely in the sea, the picture of the
parent's curious emanations on the deck, and, lastly, of those flying
shapes of cloud and wind his inner vision brought so often speeding over
long, bare hills. This was the final fragment of the outer world that
He tore along the mountains in the dawn, the awful speed at last
explained. His going made a sound upon the wind, and like the wind
he raced. Far beyond him in the distance, he saw the shadow of that
disappearing host spreading upon the valleys like a mist. Faintly still
he caught their sound of roaring; but it was his own feet now that made
that trampling as of hoofs upon the turf. The landscape moved and opened,
gathering him in....
And, hardly had he gone, when there stole upon the place where he
had stood, a sweet and simple sound of music--the little piping of a
reed. It dropped down through the air, perhaps, or came from the forest
edge, or possibly the sunrise brought it--this ancient little sound of
fluting on those Pipes men call the Pipes of Pan....
"Here we but peak and dwindle
The clank of chain and crane,
The whirr of crank and spindle
Bewilder heart and brain;
The ends of our endeavor
Are wealth and fame,
Yet in the still Forever
We're one and all the same;
"Yet beautiful and spacious
The wise, old world appears.
Yet frank and fair and gracious
Outlaugh the jocund years.
Our arguments disputing,
The universal Pan
Still wanders fluting--fluting--
Fluting to maid and man.
Our weary well-a-waying
His music cannot still:
Come! let us go a-maying,
And pipe with him our fill."
In a detailed description, radiant with a wild loveliness of some
forgotten beauty, and of necessity often incoherent, the Irishman
conveyed to me, sitting in that dreary Soho restaurant, the passion of
his vision. With an astonishing vitality and a wealth of deep conviction
it all poured from his lips. There was no halting and no hesitation. Like
a man in trance he talked, and like a man in trance he lived it over
again while imparting it to me. None came to disturb us in our dingy
corner. Indeed there is no quieter place in all London town than the back
room of these eating-houses of the French Quarter between the hours of
lunch and dinner. The waiters vanish, the "patron" disappears; no
customers come in. But I know surely that its burning splendor came not
from the actual words he used, but was due to definite complete
transference of the vision itself into my own heart. I caught the fire
from his very thought. His heat inflamed my mind. Words, both in the
uttered and the written version, dimmed it all distressingly.
And the completeness of the transference is proved for me by the fact
that I never once had need to ask a question. I saw and understood it
all as he did. And hours must have passed during the strange recital, for
toward the close people came in and took the vacant tables, the lights
were up, and grimy waiters clattered noisily about with plates and knives
and forks, thrusting an inky carte du jour beneath our very faces.
Yet how to set it down I swear I know not. Nor he, indeed. The
notebooks that I found in that old sack of Willesden canvas were a
disgrace to any man who bid for sanity,--a disgrace to paper and pencil
All memory of his former life, it seems, at first, had fallen utterly
away; nothing survived to remind him of it; and thus he lost all standard
of comparison. The state he moved in was too complete to admit of
standards or of critical judgment. For these confine, imprison, and
belittle, whereas he was free. His escape was unconditioned. From the
thirty years of his previous living, no single fragment broke through.
The absorption was absolute.
"I really do believe and know myself," he said to me across that
spotted table-cloth, "that for the time I was merged into the being of
another, a being immensely greater than myself. Perhaps old Stahl was
right, perhaps old crazy Fechner; and it actually was the consciousness
of the Earth. I can only tell you that the whole experience left no room
in me for other memories; all I had previously known was gone, wiped
clean away. Yet much of what came in its place is beyond me to describe;
and for a curious reason. It's not the size or splendor that prevent the
telling, but rather the sublime simplicity of it all. I know no language
today simple enough to utter it. Far behind words it lies, as difficult
of full recovery as the dreams of deep sleep, as the ecstasy of the
religious, elusive as the mystery of Kubla Khan or the Patmos visions of
St. John. Full recapture, I am convinced, is not possible at all in
"And at the time it did not seem like vision; it was so natural;
unstudied, unprepared, and ever there; spontaneous too and artless as
a drop of water or a baby's toy. The natural is ever the unchanging. My
God! I tell you, man, it was divine!"
He made about him a vehement sweeping gesture with his arm which
emphasized more poignantly than speech the contrast he felt here where
we sat--tight, confining walls, small stifling windows, chairs to rest
the body, smothering roof and curtains, doors of narrow entrance and
exit, floors to lift above the sweet surface of the soil,--all of them
artificial barriers to shut out light and separate away from the Earth.
"See what we've come to!" it said plainly. And it included even his
clothes and boots and collar, the ridiculous hat upon the peg, the
unsightly "brolly" in the dingy corner. Had there been room in me for
laughter, I could well have laughed aloud.
* * * * *
For as he raced across that stretch of splendid mountainous Earth,
watching the sunrise kiss the valleys and the woods, shaking the dew
from his feet and swallowing the very wind for breath, he realized that
other forms of life similar to his own were everywhere about him--also
"They were a part of the Earth even as I was. Here she was crammed
to the brim with them--projections of her actual self and being,
crowded with this incomparable ancient beauty that was strong as her
hills, swift as her running streams, radiant as her wild flowers. Whether
to call them forms or thoughts or feelings, or Powers perhaps, I swear,
old man, I know not. Her Consciousness through which I sped, drowned,
lost, and happy, wrapped us all in together as a mood contains its own
thoughts and feelings. For she _was_ a Being--of sorts. And I _was_
in her mind, mood, consciousness, call it what you best can. These
other thoughts and presences I felt were the raw material of forms,
perhaps--Forces that when they reach the minds of men must clothe
themselves in form in order to be known, whether they be Dreams, or Gods,
or any other kind of inspiration. Closer than that I cannot get.... I
knew myself within her being like a child, and I felt the deep, eternal
pull--to simple things."
* * * * *
And thus the beauty of the early world companioned him, and all the
forgotten gods moved forward into life. They hovered everywhere,
immense and stately. The rocks and trees and peaks that half concealed
them, betrayed at the same time great hints of their mighty gestures.
Near him, they were; he moved toward their region. If definite sight
refused to focus on them the fault was not their own but his. He never
doubted that they could be seen. Yet, even thus partially, they
manifested--terrifically. He was aware of their overshadowing presences.
Sight, after all, was an incomplete form of knowing--a thing he had left
behind--elsewhere. It belonged, with the other limited sense-channels,
to some attenuated dream now all forgotten. Now he knew _all over._ He
himself was of them.
"I am home!" it seems he cried as he ran cantering across the sunny
slopes. "At last I have found you! Home...!" and the stones shot wildly
from his thundering tread.
A roar of windy power filled the sky, and far away that echoing
tramping paused to listen.
"We have called you! Come...!"
And the forms moved down slowly from their mountainous pedestals;
the woods breathed out a sigh; the running water sang; the slopes
all murmured through their grass and flowers. For a worshipper, strayed
from the outer world of the dead, stood within the precincts of their
ancient temple. He had passed the Angel with the flaming sword those
very dead had set there long ago. The Garden now enclosed him. He
had found the heart of the Earth, his mother. Self-realization in the
perfect union with Nature was fulfilled. He knew the Great At-onement.
* * * * *
The quiet of the dawn still lay upon the world; dew sparkled; the air was
keen and fresh. Yet, in spite of all this vast sense of energy, this
vigor and delight, O'Malley no longer felt the least goading of
excitement. There was this animation and this fine delight; but craving
for sensation of any kind, was gone. Excitement, as it tortured men in
that outer world he had left, could not exist in this larger state of
being; for excitement is the appetite for something not possessed,
magnified artificially till it has become a condition of disease. All
that he needed was now contained within himself; he was at-ease; and,
literally, that unrest which men miscall delight could touch him not nor
torture him again.
If this were death--how exquisite!
And Time was not a passing thing, for it lay, he says, somehow in an
ocean everywhere, heaped up in gulfs and spaces. It was as though he
could help himself and take it. That morning, had he so wished, could
last forever; he could go backwards and taste the shadows of the night
again, or forward and bask in the glory of hot noon. There were no parts
of things, and so no restlessness, no sense of incompleteness, no
This quiet of the dawn lay in himself, and, since he loved it, lay there,
cool and sweet and sparkling for--years; almost--forever.
* * * * *
Moreover, while this giant form of _Urwelt_-life his inner self had
assumed was new, it yet seemed somehow familiar. The speed and weight
and power caused him no distress, there was no detail that he could not
manage easily. To race thus o'er the world, keeping pace with an eternal
dawn, was as simple as for the Earth herself to spin through space. His
union with her was as complete as that. In every item of her being lay
the wonder of her perfect form--a sphere. It was complete. Nothing
could add to it.
Yet, while all recollection of his former, pettier self was gone, he
began presently to remember--men. Though never in relation to himself, he
retained dimly a picture of that outer world of strife and terror. As a
memory of illness he recalled it--dreadfully, a nightmare fever from
which he had recovered, its horror already fading out. Cities and crowds,
poverty, illness, pain and all the various terror of Civilization, robbed
of the power to afflict, yet still hung hovering about the surface of his
consciousness, though powerless to break his peace.
For the power to understand it vanished; no part of him knew sympathy
with it; so clearly he now saw himself sharing the Earth, that a vague
wonder filled him when he recalled the mad desires of men to possess
external forms of things. It was amazing and perplexing. How could they
ever have devised such wild and childish efforts--all in the
If that outer life were the real one how could any intelligent being
think it worth while to live? How could any thinking man hold up his
head and walk along the street with dignity if that was what he believed?
Was a man satisfied with it worth keeping alive at all? What bigger
scheme could ever use him? The direction of modern life today was
diametrically away from happiness and truth.
Peace was the word he knew, peace and a singing joy.
* * * * *
He played with the Earth's great dawn and raced along these mountains
through her mind. _Of course>_ the hills could dance and sing and clap
their hands. He saw it clear. How could it be otherwise? They were
expressions of her giant moods--what in himself were thoughts--phases
of her ample, surging Consciousness....
He passed with the sunlight down the laughing valleys, spread with
the morning wind above the woods, shone on the snowy peaks, and
leaped with rushing laughter among the crystal streams. These were his
swift and darting signs of joy, words of his singing as it were. His main
and central being swung with the pulse of the Earth, too great for any
He read the book of Nature all about him, yes, but read it singing.
He understood how this patient Mother hungered for her myriad lost
children, how in the passion of her summers she longed to bless them,
to wake their high yearnings with the sweetness of her springs, and to
whisper through her autumns how she prayed for their return...!
Instinctively he read the giant Page before him. For "every form in
nature is a symbol of an idea and represents a sign or letter. A
succession of such symbols forms a language; and he who is a true child
of nature may understand this language and know the character of
everything. His mind, becomes a mirror wherein the attributes of natural
things are reflected and enter the field of his consciousness.... For man
himself is but a thought pervading the ocean of mind."
Whether or not lie remembered these stammering yet pregnant words from
the outer world now left behind, the truth they shadowed forth rose up
and took him ... and so he flowed across the mountains like a thing of
wind and cloud, and so at length came up with the stragglers of that
mighty herd of _Urwelt_ life. He joined them in a river-bed of those
ancient valleys. They welcomed him and took him to themselves.
* * * * *
For the particular stratum, as it were, of the Earth's enormous
Collective Consciousness to which he belonged, or rather that part and
corner in which he was first at home, lay with these lesser ancient
forms. Although aware of far mightier expressions of her life, he could
not yet readily perceive or join them. And this was easily comprehensible
by the analogy of his own smaller consciousness. Did not his own mind
hold thoughts of various kinds that could not readily mingle? His
thoughts of play and frolic, for instance, could not combine with the
august and graver sentiments of awe and worship, though both could
dwell together in the same heart. And here apparently, as yet, he only
touched that frolicsome fringe of consciousness that knew these wild
and playful lesser forms. Thus, while he was aware of other more
powerful figures of wonder all about him, he never quite achieved their
full recognition. The ordered, deeper strata of her Consciousness to
which they belonged still lay beyond him.
Yet everywhere he fringed them. They haunted the entire world. They
brooded hugely with a kind of deep magnificence that was like the slow
brooding of the Seasons; they rose, looming and splendid, through the
air and sky, proud, strong, and tragic. For, standing aloof from all the
rest, in isolation, like dreams in a poet's mind, too potent for
expression, they thus knew tragedy--the tragedy of long neglect and
Seated on peak and ridge, rising beyond the summits in the clouds,
filling the valleys, spread over watercourse and forest, they passed
their life of lonely majesty--apart, their splendor too remote for him as
yet to share. Long since had Earth withdrawn them from the hearts of men.
Her lesser children knew them no more. But still through the deep
recesses of her further consciousness they thundered and were glad...
though few might hear that thunder, share that awful joy....
Even the Irishman--who in ordinary life had felt instinctively that
worship which is close to love, and so to the union that love
brings--even he, in this new-found freedom, only partially discerned
their presences. He felt them now, these stately Powers men once called
the gods, but felt them from a distance; and from a distance, too, they
saw and watched him come. He knew their gorgeous forms half dimmed by
a remote and veiled enchantment; knew that they reared aloft like
ancient towers, ruined by neglect and ignorance, starved and lonely, but
still hauntingly splendid and engaging, still terrifically alive. And it
seemed to him that sometimes their awful eyes flashed with the sunshine
over slope and valley, and that wherever they rested flowers sprang to
Their nearness sometimes swept him like a storm, and then the entire
herd with which he mingled would stand abruptly still, caught by a wave
of awe and wonder. The host of them stood still upon the grass, their
frolic held a moment, their voices hushed, only deep panting audible
and the soft shuffling of their hoofs among the flowers. They bowed
their splendid heads and waited--while a god went past them.... And
through himself, as witness of the passage, a soft, majestic power also
swept. With the lift of a hurricane, yet with the gentleness of dew, he
felt the noblest in himself irresistibly evoked. It was gone again as
soon as come. It passed. But it left him charged with a regal confidence
and joy. As in the mountains a shower of snow picks out the highest peaks
in white, tracing its course and pattern over the entire range, so in
himself he knew the highest powers--aspirations, yearnings, hopes--raised
into shining, white activity, and by these quickened splendors of
his soul could recognize the nature of the god who came so close.
* * * * *
And, keeping mostly to the river-beds, they splashed in the torrents,
played and leaped and cantered. From the openings of many a moist cave
others came to join them. Below a certain level, though, they never went;
the forests knew them not; they loved the open, windy heights. They
turned and circulated as by a common consent, wheeling suddenly together
as if a single desire actuated the entire mass. One instinct spread, as
it were, among the lot, shared instantly, conveying to each at once the
general impulse. Their movements in this were like those of birds whose
flight in coveys obeys the order of a collective consciousness of which
each single one is an item--expressions of one single Bird-Idea behind,
distributed through all.
And O'Malley without questioning or hesitation obeyed, while yet he was
free to do as he wished alone. To do as they did was the greatest
pleasure, that was all.
For sometimes with two of them, one fully-formed, the other of lesser
mold--he flew on little journeys of his own. These two seemed nearer
to him than the rest. He felt he knew them and had been with them
before. Their big brown eyes continually sought his own with pleasure.
It almost seemed as if they had all three been separated long away from
one another, and had at last returned. No definite memory of the
interval came back, however; the sea, the steamer, and the journey's
incidents all had faded--part of that world of lesser insignificant dream
where they had happened. But these two kept close to him; they ran and
The time that passed included many dawns and nights and also many
noons of splendor. It all seemed endless, perfect, and serene. That
anything could finish here did not once occur to him. Complete things
cannot finish. He passed through seas and gulfs of glorious existence.
For the strange thing was that while he only remembered afterwards the
motion, play, and laughter, he yet had these other glimpses here and
there of some ordered and progressive life existing just beyond. It lay
hidden deeper within. He skimmed its surface; but something prevented
his knowing it fully. And the limitation that held him back belonged,
it seemed, to that thin world of trivial dreaming he had left behind. He
had not shaken it off entirely. It still obscured his sight.
The scale and manner of this greater life faintly reached him, nothing
more. It may be that he only failed to bring back recollection, or it may
be that he did not penetrate deeply enough to know. At any rate, he
recognized that this sudden occasional passing by of vast deific figures
had to do with it, and that all this ocean of Earth's deeper
Consciousness was peopled with forms of life that obeyed some splendid
system of progressive ordered existence. To be gathered up in this one
greater consciousness was not the end.... Rather was it merely the
Meantime he learned that here, among these lesser thoughts of the great
Mother, all the Pantheons of the world had first their origin--the
Greek, the Eastern, and the Northern too. Here all the gods that men
have ever half divined, still ranged the moods of Her timeless
consciousness. Their train of beauty, too, accompanied them.
* * * * *
I cannot half recall the streams of passionate description with which
his words clothed these glowing memories of his vision. Great pictures
of it haunt the background of my mind, pictures that lie in early mists,
framed by the stars and glimmering through some golden, flowered
dawn. Besides the huge outlines that stood breathing in the background
like dark mountains, there flitted here and there strange dreamy forms
of almost impossible beauty, slender as lilies, eyes soft and starry
shining through the dusk, hair flying past them like a rain of summer
flowers. Nymph-like they moved down all the pathways of the Earth's young
mind, singing and radiant, spring blossoms in the Garden of her
Consciousness.... And other forms, more vehement and rude, urged
to and fro across the pictures; crowding the movement; some playful
and protean; some clothed as with trees, or air, or water; and others
dark, remote, and silent, ranging her deeper layers of thought and dream,
known rarely to the outer world at all.
The rush and glory of it all is more than my mind can deal with. I
gather, though, O'Malley saw no definite forms, but rather knew
"forces," powers, aspects of this Soul of Earth, facets she showed in
long-forgotten days to men. Certainly the very infusoria of his
imagination were kindled and aflame when he spoke of them. Through the
tangled thicket of his ordinary mind there shone this passion of an
uncommon loveliness and splendour.
"The hours when the mind is absorbed by beauty are the only hours when we
really live, so that the longer we can stay among these things, so much
the more is snatched from inevitable time."
In the relationship that his everyday mind bore to his present state
there lay, moreover, a wealth of pregnant suggestion. The bridge
connecting his former "civilized" condition with this cosmic experience
was a curious one. That outer, lesser state, it seemed, had known a
foretaste sometimes of the greater. And it was hence had come those
dreams of a Golden Age that used to haunt him. For he began now to
recall the existence of that outer world of men and women, though by
means of certain indefinite channels only. And the things he remembered
were not what the world calls important. They were moments when he had
known--beauty; beauty, however, not of the grandiose sort that holds the
crowd, but of so simple and unadvertised a kind that most men overlook it
He understood now why the thrill had been so wonderful. He saw
clearly why those moments of ecstasy he had often felt in Nature used
to torture him with an inexpressible yearning that was rather pain than
joy. For they were precisely what he now experienced when the viewless
figure of a god passed by him. Down there, out there, below--in that
cabined lesser state--they had been partial, but were now complete.
Those moments of worship he had known in woods, among mountains,
by the shores of desolate seas, even in a London street, perhaps at the
sight of a tree in spring or of a pathway of blue sky between the summer
clouds,--these had been, one and all, tentative, partial revelations of
the Consciousness of the Soul of Earth he now knew face to face.
These were his only memories of that outer world. Of people, cities,
or of civilization apart from these, he had no single remembrance.
* * * * *
Certain of these little partial foretastes now came back to him, like
fragments of dream that trouble the waking day.
He remembered, for instance, one definite picture: a hot autumn sun
upon a field of stubble where the folded corn-sheaves stood; thistles
waving by the hedges; a yellow field of mustard rising up the slope
against the sky-line, and beyond a row of peering elms that rustled in
the wind. The beauty of the little scene was somehow poignant. He
recalled it vividly. It had flamed about him, transfiguring the world; he
had trembled, yearning to see more, for just behind it he divined with
an exulting passionate worship this gorgeous, splendid Earth-Being with
whom at last he now actually moved. In that instant of a simple
loveliness her consciousness had fringed his own--had bruised it. He
had known it only by the partial channels of sight and smell and
hearing, but had felt the greater thing beyond, without being able to
explain it. And a portion of what he felt had burst in speech from his
He was there, he remembered, with two persons, a man and woman
whose name and face, however, he could not summon, and he recalled
that the woman smiled incredulously when he spoke of the exquisite
perfume of those folded corn-sheaves in the air. She told him he
imagined it. He saw again the pretty woman's smile of incomprehension; he
saw the puzzled expression in the eyes of the man; he heard
him murmur something prosaic about the soul, about birds, too, and
the prospects of killing hundreds later--sport! He even saw the woman
picking her way with caution as though the touch of earth could stain
or injure her. He especially recalled the silence that had followed on
his words that sought to show them--Beauty.... He remembered, too,
above all, the sense of loneliness among men that it induced in himself.
But the memory brought him a curious, sharp pain; and turning to
that couple who were now his playmates in this Garden of the Earth,
he called them with a singing cry and cantered over leagues of flowers,
wind, and sunshine before he stopped again. They leaped and danced
together, exulting in their spacious _Urwelt_ freedom ... want of
comprehension no longer possible.
* * * * *
The memory fled away. He shook himself free of it. Then others came in
its place, another and another, not all with people, blind, deaf, and
unreceptive, yet all of "common," simple scenes of beauty when something
vast had surged upon him and broken through the barriers that stand
between the heart and Nature. Such curious little scenes they were. In
most of them he had evidently been alone. But one and all had touched his
soul with a foretaste of this same nameless ecstasy that now he knew
complete. In every one the Consciousness of the Earth had "bruised" his
Utterly simple they had been, one and all, these partial moments of
blinding beauty in that lesser, outer world:--A big, brown, clumsy bee
he saw, blundering into the petals of a wild flower on which the dew
lay sparkling.... A wisp of colored cloud driving loosely across the
hills, dropping a purple shadow.... Deep, waving grass, plunging and
shaking in the wind that drew out its underworld of blue and silver over
the whole spread surface of a field.... A daisy closed for the night upon
the lawn, eyes tightly shut, hands folded.... A south wind whispering
through larches.... The pattering of summer rain upon young oak
leaves in the dawn.... Fingers of long blue distance upon dreamy
woods.... Anemones shaking their pale and starry little faces in the
wind.... The columned stillness of a pine-wood in the dusk.... Young
birch trees mid the velvet gloom of firs.... The new moon setting in a
cloud of stars.... The hush of stars in many a summer night.... Sheep
grazing idly down a sun-baked hill.... A path of moonlight on a
lake.... A little wind through bare and wintry woods.... Oh! he
recalled the wonder, loveliness, and passion of a thousand more!
They thronged and passed, and thronged again, crowding one another:--all
golden moments of revelation when he had caught glimpses of the Earth,
and her greater Moods had swept him up into herself. Moments in which a
god had passed....
These were his only memories of that outer world he had left behind:
flashes of simple beauty.
Was thus the thrill of beauty then explained? Was loveliness, as men
know it, a revelation of the Earth-Soul behind? And were the blinding
flash, the dazzling wonder, and the dream men seek to render permanent
in music, color, line and language, a vision of her nakedness? Down
there, the poets and those simple enough of heart to stand close to
Nature, could catch these whispered fragments of the enormous message,
told as in secret; but now, against her very heart he heard the
thunder of the thing complete. Now, in the glory of all naked bodily
forms,--of women, men and children, of swift animals, of flowers, trees,
and running water, of mountains and of seas,--he understood these
partial revelations of the great Earth-Soul that bore them, gave them
life. For one and all were channels for her loveliness. He saw the
beauty of the "natural" instincts, the passion of motherhood and
fatherhood--Earth's seeking to project herself in endless forms and
variety. He understood why love increased the heart and made it feel at
one with all the world.
* * * * *
Moreover in some amazing fashion he was aware that others from
that outer world beside himself had access here, and that from this
Garden of the Earth's deep central personality came all the inspiration
known to men. He divined that others were even now drawing upon it
like himself. The thoughts of the poets went past him like thin flames;
the dreams of millions--mute, inexpressible yearnings like those he
had himself once known--streamed by in pale white light, to shoot
forward with a little nesting rush into some great Figure ... and then
return in double volume to the dreaming heart whence first they issued.
Shadows, too, he saw, by myriads--faint, feeble gropings of men and
women seeking it eagerly, yet hardly knowing what they sought; but,
above all, long, singing, beautiful tongues of colored flame that were
the instincts of divining children and of the pure in heart. These came
in rippling floods unerringly to their goal, lingered for long periods
before returning. And all, he knew, were currents of the great Earth
Life, moods, thoughts, dreams--expressions of her various Consciousness
with which she mothered, fed, and blessed all whom it was possible to
reach. Their passionate yearning, their worship, made access possible.
Along the tenderest portions of her personality these latter came, as by
a spread network of infinitely delicate filaments that extended from
herself, deliciously inviting....
* * * * *
The thing, however, that remained with him long after his return
to the normal state of lesser consciousness was the memory of those
blinding moments when a god went past him, or, as he phrased it in
another way, when he caught glimpses of the Earth--naked. For these
were instantaneous flashes of a gleaming whiteness, a dazzling and
supreme loveliness that staggered thought and arrested feeling, while yet
of a radiant simplicity that brought--for a second at least--a measure
He then knew not mere partial projections. He saw beyond--deep
down into the flaming center that gave them birth. The blending of his
being with the Cosmic Consciousness was complete enough for this.
He describes it as a spectacle of sheer glory, stupendous, even
terrifying. The refulgent majesty of it utterly possessed him. The shock
of its magnificence came, moreover, upon his entire being, and was not
really of course a "sight" at all. The message came not through any small
division of a single sense. With a massed yet soaring power it shook him
free of all known categories. He then fringed a region of yet greater
being wherein he tasted for a moment some secret comprehension of a true
"divinity." The deliverance into ecstasy was complete.
In these flashing moments, when a second seemed a thousand years,
he further _understood_ the splendor of the stage beyond. Earth in her
turn was but a Mood in the Consciousness of the Universe, that Universe
again was mothered by another vaster one ... and the total that included
them all was not the gods--but God.
The litter of disordered notebooks filled to the covers with fragments
of such beauty that they almost seem to burn with a light of their
own, lies at this moment before me on my desk. I still hear the rushing
torrent of his language across the spotted table-cloth in that dark
restaurant corner. But the incoherence seems only to increase with my
best efforts to combine the two.
"Go home and dream it," as he said at last when I ventured a question
here and there toward the end of the recital. "You'll see it best that
way--in sleep. Get clear away from _me_, and my surface physical
consciousness. Perhaps it will come to you then."
There remains, however, to record the manner of his exit from that
great Garden of the Earth's fair youth. And he tells it more simply. Or,
perhaps, it is that I understand it better.
For suddenly, in the midst of all the joy and splendor that he tasted,
there came unbidden a strengthening of the tie that held him to his
"outer," lesser state. A wave of pity and compassion surged in upon him
from the depths. He saw the struggling millions in the prisons and cages
civilization builds. He felt _with_ them. No happiness, he understood,
could be complete that did not also include them all; and--he longed
to tell them. The thought and the desire tore across him burningly.
"If only I can get this back to them!" passed through him, like a
flame. "I'll save the world by bringing it again to simple things! I've
only got to tell it and all will understand at once--and follow!"
And with the birth of the desire there ran a deep convulsive sound
like music through the greater Consciousness that held him close. Those
Moods that were the gods, thronged gloriously about him, almost
pressing forwards into actual sight.... He might have lingered where
he was for centuries, or forever; but this thought pulled him back--the
desire to share his knowledge with the world, the passion to heal and
save and rescue.
And instantly, in the twinkling of an eyelid, the Urwelt closed its gates
of horn and ivory behind him. An immense dark shutter dropped
noiselessly with a speed of lightning across his mind. He stood
He found himself near the tumbled-down stone huts of a hamlet that he
recognized. He staggered, rubbed his eyes, and stared. A forest of beech
trees shook below him in a violent wind. He saw the branches tossing. A
Caucasian saddle-horse beside him nosed a sack that spilt its flour on
the ground at his feet, he heard the animal's noisy breathing; he noted
the sliding movement of the spilt flour before it finally settled; and
some fifty yards beyond him, down the slopes, he saw a human
It was his Georgian guide. The man, half stooping, caught the woolen
bashlik that had fallen from his head.
O'Malley watched the man complete the gesture. Still running, he
replaced the cap upon his head.