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  ― 203 ―

The Poet's Vision.

The visions of this world's so-called madmen are the truths of life. Lift your soul but a mournful inch above your fellow-creatures and they will condemn you as a madman. What is madness, pray? Is it to extinguish in the soul the lights of Paradise and herd with swine, or to unbandage the spirit's eyes and gaze on the beautiful beings that dwell in the fair places of earth? Think you those ancient poets fed on dreams, those seers of the young world babbled for nurseries? These little men of to-day, with rule and tape, how can they with spirits blinded by the smoke of the fires of brute desire perceive the beatific vision of Plato, the spiritual essences of Zoroaster descending like lambent flames, the sylphs that sport through the radiant bubbles of Hermes? How can they know that a wattle abloom is spring's visible trumpet-blast of triumph, that music is the manna on which the angels feed?

I underwent the ordeals that purify the spirit in its earthy mesh. The brute was slowly squeezed out. My spirit was gradually unfilmed. The stars then opened into ethereal pavilions. Night and day I hung about the Blue Mountains and rambled through their valleys,


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listening, gazing, brooding. The waterfalls sang to me a new song, the trees whispered new secrets, the flowers at my feet breathed new intelligences. In lines of yellow fire the wattles invaded the gorges and blazoned a new revelation. Not yet—not yet. Further and further from the sounding halls of the senses my spirit retired. I felt the gasping overburdened joy of life within the trees moving nearer and nearer. I felt the song of waters becoming more spiritually subtle. The turf panted to speak, the dews trembled to sing—not yet, not yet. Driven by an inexplicable impulse I haunted one secluded waterfall. I breathed entreaties, petitions, vows, and the waters chorussed in bass: Soon! Soon! A splendor flew through the falling foam-flakes like gleams of silver. Not yet—not yet. My spirit was still twitched by a tangle of matter. But day by day, night by night, the influence grew, the enchantment deepened, the glamour increased, till one night—a night like this, lovely with moonlight on the falling water—the vision came: first a limb as of sleeping foam, then a shoulder and a throat more white than a lily, and then a beautiful being, with locks of flame and gracious eyes of moonlight, in whose ineffable countenance the joyous innocence and purity our souls crave for slept as in a bridal chamber. Her grave sweet eyes glistened amid the spray that sparkled like hoar frost. The green rock against which rested her lovely head shone like an emerald


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amid the snow-white tapestry of falling foam. Was it an angel muffling smitten harp-chords at their richest tone? She spoke!

I learned the names of the divinities that rule over our beloved country. I dare not reveal their mystic rites, though believe me these are for our welfare. Sadness has prevailed amongst that gentle race for many years through our barterage of high virtues for gold and station. They have their labors, too, as well as we. Mighty and malignant are the powers they have to combat. There are potentates of fire and storm, wielders of flood, slingers of drought, whom they dread and yet against whom they array themselves for our sake. And she, the fairest daughter of the mountain stream, admitted me into the presence of the mountain Genius. More magnificent than Saturn in his prideful days, with limbs more radiantly beautiful than Apollo's, a visage weighty with thought and grandly sculptured, locks like sheaves of sunbeams, he surveyed me from a slanting ridge with kingly beneficence. Thus for weeks I breathed the atmosphere of our divinities, rejoicing to learn the epic of the Bush.

And then, whilst in the plentitude of all my spirit had craved for, I fell!

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