❧ ❧ CONTENTS. ❧ ❧
“TO THE FLOWERS, TO WEEP”
HERBERT P. HORNE.
Unsigned “MAURICE DE GUERIN”
“ON A PICTURE BY PUVIS DE
“LOVE LIES BLEEDING”
“THE LITTLE BROWN WOOD-MOUSE”
“LES CHERCHEUSES DE POUX” FROM
THE FRENCH OF ARTHUR RIMBAUD
“ON A DRAWING BY C. H. S.” . by
T. STURGE MOORE.
T. STURGE MOORE.
Unsigned “THE UNWRITTEN BOOK”
The issue is strictly
to two hundred copies, numbered,
of which this is . .
THE DIAL ❧ No 2 ❧
OF THE SERIES.
Full Page Illustrations“THE PALACE BURNS
AND BEHEMOTH” DESIGNED AND
ENGRAVED ON THE WOOD BY
“SHEPHERD IN A MIST” DRAWN
ON THE STONE AND BITTEN BY
CHARLES HASLEWOOD SHANNON.
“SISTER OF THE WOODS” DESIGNED
AND ENGRAVED ON THE WOOD BY
“REPEATED BEND” AN ORIGINAL
CHARLES H. SHANNON.
“WITH VIOL AND FLUTE” AN
ORIGINAL LITHOGRAPH BY
CHARLES H. SHANNON.
THE MARRED FACE
MY MOUNTAINS ARE MY OWN
AND I WILL KEEP THEM
BOTH city and suburbs re-
joiced. From roof to roof-
top swayed the bell-like
weight of large lanterns that
mimicked the languorous
airs of lilies on the nod, yet
more duskily, like fruit again become blossom,
against a faint pink sky still pale with the
lingering trail of sunset; for Chang Tei had
laid low that haughty head of his upon Mount
Torment, below the prison gates; and with the
dawn of even, when a wan moon-crescent
beckoned to clustering stars, and mimic lights
from the bridges swam with them in the river,
a glow from his still burning house put a dull
redness in the air, through which, now and
again, shot rapidly a light more acute, when a
charred wall crumbled in.
This was watched, long after curfew and into
mmm the night, for some beggars sat at a town gate.
The sound of the patrol’s retreating footfalls was echoed by overhanging
eaves, with this the tremulous expostulations of some belated tippler hurried
away; the night-wind swept past, and the stillness from circling hills sank
upon the city.
“Curse me!” quoth beggar Foo, “but Ling must have found a sweet-
heart.” At this the pent hatred of the others clamoured against those limbs,
that whole nose of his: “He a sweetheart forsooth!” They glanced hate-
fully at each other’s maimed limbs; as the wind tosses dead tree-branches,
so their arms became shaken, for with Ling was their common fund for food.
AH! curse him; to hide thus from the patrol since sun-down was not
pleasant, for the night became cold when the pre-morning wind, that shudders
in the chimneys, adds its shriller coolness to the air.
Their hoarse clamour soon spluttered, and gradually ceased; dull gleams
only answered the fixed gleam of hungry eyes; one idea only troubled their
shrivelled lips: then with tacit consent the beggars bent towards the place
of Sudden Death, the muffled clank of plodding hand-rests beat a wooden
tune to their shadows cast upon the walls they passed.
Some dogs, upon the place of execution, snapped sullenly from right to
left, with fangs still clenched in shreds of flesh. Foo was bitten on the
hand; at his jarring cry the curs scampered away in a retreat of pattering paws.
About Mount Torment lay what remained, flesh made nameless, then
left there by the torturer. One beggar shook from a bamboo stake a head
so placed not to be stolen; a silent tussle began for this, in which blows fell
upon unelastic shoulders that sounded like bumped wood. In the struggle,
this prize had fallen to Foo; his wounded hand still maddened him, and this
gave energy to body bent in the effort to propel his little cart; the turning
of a few streets soon brought him into security, for the chase had grown
slack, a feeble shower of hurled stones ended it.
When he rested to take breath, his hunger had gone, which but now so
tormented him. Like an unequal runner, the taste of blood was in his
mouth, and he grasped at an oppression near his chest; so he placed the
head upon the ground, for it had grown heavy.
Something, as yet but half understood, flashed suddenly upon him, as
if an oblique light, full of revelation, had been cast between his eyes and the
dead man’s eyes; vanishing, it left a partial recollection, or echo, in his brain,
vibrant as a splash of white upon a ground of black, but, like it, formless.
When, gradually, colour upon colour, the past, unrolled, swam upon the
filmy web, many things came back unbidden, as if, in sleep, he walked some
ominous strand girt with the refluent sweep of persistent recollection,
“Do you remember, do you remember?” the dead man’s eyes added,
“You left by the wrong gate, I lost you in the garden; I, Chang Tei, have
hated her, ever since”—“ever since,” whispered the little memories,
Now, Foo understood why the night-watch had seized him beyond the
gate—as a robber? or conspirator? he had never known; things had been
wrenched from him, groaned in excess of anguish, when blinded by torture;
things whose purport he had not then understood.
Though no kinsman dared succour him, he had escaped; ten years had
passed since the paying of her kisses with his blood.
For hours the silent dialogue continued between the dead man and the
Dawn tinged a summer pavilion near the royal orchards, when the
beggar again reached the terrible Present, with its livid light that streaked
the opposite walls, as with the stain of tears.
A lamp-ray shot from a lattice, for a moment opened; the sound of
trailed viol strings floated past with the projected glimmer.
Then, he remembered the time and place; taking the head, he hurled it
through the unclosed window.
The marred face fell upon the queen’s lap; when she rose with suddenly
clenched eyelids, she felt its weight bite into her robe.
No one stirrred, their terror had not passed; from a word gasped by a
servant, her casual lover knew his mistress was the queen; he dared not
move whilst her eyes remained shut.
Her teeth clattered, and from the throat came forth a shuddering sound,
as of something unwound slowly.
The fatal head merely looked at her; between its eyes and hers, one
recollection had grown, at first impalpably, but gradually, with such oppres-
sion that she opened them wide and closed her hands convulsed.
“Water! give me wine!”
A great silence fell. She became aware that her lips moved inaudibly.
A sense of void, that yet seemed conscious with a threat and terribly
near, hung upon her. Had the world slipped away, out of time’s control?
and the idea of calling for assistance seemed so absurd.
Of its own accord the head rolled over. Once more she gurgled from
the throat, with short, hurt moans, and leant over the dead face, as if dragged
there perforce; in rapid succession came the remembered sensation of a
jostling palanquin, some women beckoning from a balcony, and a great
sense of fear that made her remember his name: but the angle of a villa
swam past in moonlight; with it the sensation of a nestling kiss; she
remembered the rest, and became conscious.
She feared the attendants heard these certain things, and motioned
unsteadily to them to go, to leave the room; and all this had taken but a
little while, for the wine still flowed from the gullet of a fallen jar, it ceased
with a loud “Sob”; remembering her lover’s presence, she saw his face
was frightful; with a terrified murmur she said “Go away”!—he turned
and left very suddenly.
Birds inaudible by day made the air acute with bleeding sounds, pulsed
from red throats unassuaged. Above the lawns, the morning mists hung
loose a silvery green which clung about and tinged the lower tree-trunks.
When the queen, with dull, relaxed eyelids, gazed through the window,
the summer pavilions without seemed diminutive in the morning light, as
if shrunken in the new sense of air, of space; the room was no longer doubly
stained by blended dawn and lamp haze, the lamp had gone out.
She felt stunned with all that face had said to her, from the time that a
hesitating blueness had been let in with the opening of a shutter, to the Now
that filled the walls with a diffused radiance that bleached the lattice; those
lips had mumbled all their hatred, explaining, accusing and repeating; then,
haggard images faced her on all sides, peopling many mirrors that circled
or ceiled the love chamber,—might they not mirror the marred face? This
gave her strength to rise, and fold it in her robe; she would take it to the
river.—Several times she pushed the head from the shore, for the river there
seemed without current; heedless of her efforts, his lips smiled, as if they
sketched a kiss in the air and said “why do you try? you cannot do this
When Summer came, and the days brooded and grew still, beneath a sky
that drooped, a glance of his would cling to her, his voice remembered would
seem Time’s central voice, heard only at intervals; sometimes it sobbed, like
the river beyond the gardens, whilst the fountains tall beat time without and
dreamt they touched the eaves.—“You did not know that we should meet
so soon? but see!”—she even heard this after having locked the head in a
box; and sometimes a mirror remembered his face; she had this covered
up, never returning to that part of the palace. People said these mirrors
were covered because the queen was daily losing her beauty; there was some
truth in this; her dead lover haunted her with unforgiving eyes, only the
more implacable when she closed hers to the light; and, through this terrible
obsession, the ghost of another feeling would sometimes steal upon her and
make still, for a second only, the unrelenting fierceness with which his eye-
balls looked at her; then she would cry, in pity of herself.
Once his face had looked at her from the burnished gilding of an
oratory, where she had gone to complain. Her pride was broken. If, at
times, her old haughtiness returned, and, with it, deep gusts of wantonness,
she found terror painted upon love’s face; some occasional lovers had even
to be executed, for they had talked; those were such troubled times. Their
death seemed to her useless, foolish, but the laws of the country forbade
the slandering of the queen.
Slowly, she sank into a torpor, vague, but almost delightful; she dreamt
of shadeful places, deep with boughs, long murmurous grasses,—places where
the large flowers seemed mellow sounds,—and that his glance had there
grown still. A belief in this would flow through her limbs with a soft,
Gradually, in these hallucinations, the dead man’s voice whispered
gently, in tones that till then had been forgotten; and the newer sound
would swell within her, like the long sun-streaks that glow and fade across
a stretch of famished grass. Thus, something of the waning summer’s
pleasantness sank into her life, as it grew more and more unreal and blent
with the moods of the sleeping palace, giving moment to the yawn of a
curtain gently swayed by the breeze, the shimmer from the floors, their
clinging coolness poured beneath the cedar beams that cracked and stretched;
those things that give the sense of the hours as they fall from the hands of
time like the beads from a chaplet; till once, in very sooth his voice did
call from the sealed and spiced box in which she had placed this dead face
Like one in a trance she rose to go to him.
But the head rolled over with a branding peal of laughter; exasperated,
she struck it passionately, again and again, till her hands were wet with tears
—great tears streamed from his eyes; and her bowels yearned, as thick
drops gathered about her lashes, that she could have done this thing! she
kissed him, and they wept together.
Facing the queen was a picture she had often, if but vaguely, noted;
rich with age, as with clinging incense haze, the painted figure was clothed
in a violet robe that curved outwardly; it held a tongueless bell in one hand,
the other rose to close its laboured lips; the eyes were fixed unfathomably
into space, they got their strangeness by the rigid distinctness with which
the artist had pencilled them—those eyes seemed to have grown pallid in the
effort to forget.
Through her clustering tears she suddenly remembered the picture; the
resemblance of its lips to those of her lover broke upon her like a sudden
bell-sound heard in the centre of a wood. The painting had been called
“Silence”; some said it represented Fate: beneath the queen’s kisses
Chang Tei very slowly closed his eyes.
Time passed, the summer days returned; legends about the queen took
clearer, if still fragmentary form; she was of alien blood, remotely of Tartar
origin. During the disturbances the Chang Tei rebellion had left in the
larger towns, those voices had grown louder that sing little, forbidden
songs, or give vent to exclamations in an amused crowd.
Some things were coarse and cruel, their infamy delightful to those who
could best understand it. When a few are gathered together, will not a song-
give, sometimes, to the singer a flattering sense of nationality?—some origi-
nality of feeling steals unawares through a chorus not sung too loud, but to
which people nod pleasantly as they go by the half-closed door.
There were other things, however, not to be understood; the queen’s
poignant passions, this one supreme renunciation seemed only able to
assuage—how unaccountable this! She used to terrify her lovers, about this
there were many ingenious tales. Now, it was said she would wash this
marred face with her tears, wipe, devoutly, with her hair, the precious oint-
ments she poured upon its many wounds, kissing the spiced mouth; she
was as one who has listened to much prolonged music, or who half fears the
approach of a vision.
And men, with shrill voices, said a curse was upon her for her lewdness;
that an iron circle weighed upon her brow from nightrise to sunrise, but
that her lover had no cause to fear, being but a face; and people would
laugh exceedingly at this; also, was that Face not deeply marred?
Though trouble, ever increasing, raged in the provinces, the queen’s life
did not change; none but a few servants who had seen the head’s coming
had access to her.
In long rooms, hung with violet veils, or dark bronze mirrors filled only
with a remote radiance, she nightly feasted with him, raising empty goblets
to her lips, breaking untasted bread sacramentally;—though a banquet was
laid nightly, she tasted but a little rice. When morning came she would
motion towards a window and say, “My Lord! the Dawn breaks.” Rising,
she would bear the head in her hands, devoutly, as a young priest does a
relic, through darkened corridors, where the purple shapes seemed absorbed
in the recreating of forms half remembered, of colours half effaced; and
she would murmur the while quaint foolish songs she had learnt in her
And behold! rebellion stood boldly at the gates of her capital with a
rejoicing populace issuing thence with appropriate presents, whilst in the
queen’s house all was still, as a place the south wind has swept over and left
News reached the palace; the servants issued from lateral gates; they
looked sharply about them as if to see if it rained, dropping ostentatiously
their long lances, or feathered brooms, if any one chanced to be near; but as
yet no crowd circled the many royal buildings. Here and there stood a few
men only, who blinked somewhat at the light, and watched, quietly, as birds
watch a dying traveller. Some amongst them swung long arms, with hooked
hands a little distance from their sides, scarcely knowing what to do with
When the sudden crowd came with the Deliverers beating their drums,
the imperial peacocks and other birds flew, clamouring, into the air to perch
on unaccustomed roof projections and pinnacles. A deaf old servant came
out after this noise; crossing the main drawbridge, he held one hand to his
ear as if to listen. At this the crowd laughed merrily.
Room after room was crossed, in good order as yet, with a little laughter
only when there was no exit, and the same rooms had to be crossed again.
In the halls, the many paintings looked at the crowd; some represented
princes battling with waves or waterfalls; ladies among peonies; there were
pictures of gentle beasts, preciously wrought; portraits of beautiful Em-
presses,—one had been covered with a dish-clout, for her servants, wishing
to conceal the picture, had not dared destroy it, not knowing the town would
open all its gates to the insurgents, so many things might have happened.
The crowd by this time a little awed again laughed, then moved on.
At last a cry of rage broke from them all; the queen could nowhere be
found. Some among the rebels said the carved figures on a roof represented
all the sins, that the topmost figure, tulip-shaped, was an image of sterility;
at any rate the splendours of this temple roof maddened them,—had it not
been built with what might have been in each man’s larder? And the prince,
of royal Chinese descent, who had headed the crowd, borne in a long litter,
made a sign with his hands; his followers knew he wished nothing to remain
of this palace, builded by an alien dynasty, and torches became spontaneous
in the crowd.
The noise, which had hitherto filled the fantastic palace pavilions, ceased,
even without, and an oppressive lull swept heavily through the open doors,
and thence into the gardens.
On the lawns the birds had settled again, but once more they twisted
their necks and bent their legs as if for flight; the Royal Tigers walked up
and down their cages, or, lifting their front paws, they snuffed the air, as cats
do at a scented flower they do not think they like; white hares shot from
cover to cover and listened. No smoke was as yet visible—but a thin crack-
ling sound disturbed them.
When lithe flames bent from some windows, the alarm scarcely increased;
the birds strutted about or took little foolish flights; out of the bamboo
stubble came the quaint squeak of the quail, the flutter of partridges.
Upon the walls, large painted spaces retained their surface colour unto
the last, between the bursting and licking of the flames. Creeping plants
writhed from heated bricks. The clatter of tiles sliding away to where their
fall was no longer heard came, repeatedly, from a portion of the palace now
a widening flame.
A flight of peacocks wheeled round and round, as they fell, suffocated,
into the fire. The great sullen Behemoth then broke from his tank, in which
he loves to wallow in ooze and mire; first among the beasts he had snuffed,
but had not moved, he had rolled little red eyes long before the outbursting
of the flames. When, indeed, the heat grew terrible, he ran with his snout
low down, hurling out of existence beasts that stood in his path, to beat
against a part of the palace not yet on fire.
After the garden fountains had ceased, and their water had grown choked
and turbid with fallen sparks, all the animals howled with a terrible voice
that had a blare as of brass, echoing to the very innermost room, where the
queen sat beneath the picture of Silence.
The palace burns, and Behemoth! but in her ears the roar was faint as
the booming of a neighbouring sea, as the fall of land down some hill-slope.
Slowly, but very slowly, some smoke drifted between those walls that
were covered with burnished bronze.
“Love!” she said, “I think the dawn has come! for there is a redness
in the air, love! see, the morning mist is on the floor, filtered to this room.”
She laughed quietly, remembering it was still day, not even twilight, for no
servant had come, and without them she knew not, nor troubled to know,
how the spent hours waned.
Then it seemed to her the palace burned, as a little sound like a mouse
crept among the hangings that smouldered duskily, near the chink of a
bronze door; and the mist was filmy with smoke.
She knew that, owing to the gold upon them and the silver woven in
their web, the curtains could scarcely burn; the burnished walls and finished
floors were covered with bronze plating; heat only, and suffocation, could
“My love,” she said, “the palace burns, let us go away.” Donning a fastidious robe, entirely radiant with wings outstretched upon its tissue, she nodded to him and sang vaguely, she also unwound her hair and painted her eyes, that he might be proud of her beauty; they would go away, the palace burned, the gods were so envious.
Door after door was crossed and left behind; the muffled rooms burnt
noiselessly, each sinking into A past as she walked to meet the future. Her
dilated eyes caught glimpses of the whiteness of her skin, the morsels of
beauty that remained to her; the black mirrors had veiled the ageing of her
Some of the insurgents saw her glide above a tall, smooth wall that led
to a disused pavilion near the palace orchards, the culminant fire behind her
as a frame. The fixity of her gaze was centred on the dead man’s eyes.
Some one in the crowd hurled a javelin that stuck into a door before her.
But still she kissed her lover’s face, as if she inhaled the deep fragrance of a
flower. Then, as the pavilion had no outer door, as she could go no further,
she reverentially kissed his marred face before them all.
Some say that owing to her great sinfulness she sang a wanton song.
IMITATED FROM THE FRENCH OF PAUL VERLAINE.
Conquered the flower maidens, and the wide embrace
Of their round proffered arms that tempt the virgin boy:
Conquered the trickling of their babbling tongues; the coy
Back glances; and the mobile breasts of supple grace.
Conquered the WOMAN BEAUTIFUL; the fatal charm
Of her hot breast; the music of her babbling tongue:
Conquered the gate of Hell; into the gate the young
Man passes, with the heavy trophy at his arm—
The holy javelin that pierced the Heart of God.
He heals the dying king; he sits upon the throne,
King; and high priest of that great gift the living Blood.
In robe of gold the youth adores the glorious Sign
Of the green goblet; worships the mysterious Wine.
And o, the chime of children’s voices in the dome!
TO THE FLOWERS, TO WEEP
Weep, roses, weep; and straightway shed
Your purest tears.
Weep, honeysuckles, white and red:
And with you, all those country dears;
Violets, and every bud of blue,
More blue than skies;
Pinks, cowslips, jasmines, lilies too,
Pansies and peonies.
For she, that is the Queen of flowers,
Though called the least,
Lies drooping beneath dreadful Hours,
Megaera has from Hell released.
Weep, till your lovely heads are bent:
Weep, you, that fill
The meadow-corners; and frequent
All the green margins of the rill.
Flood, flood your cups with crystal tears,
Until each leaf,
Each flower, through all the upland, wears
The dole and brilliance of your grief.
So that the Lark, who had from heaven withdrawn,
Re-sing to you
His song, mistaking noon for dawn,
And those your tears for dew.
Herbert P. Horne.
TO THE MEMORY OF ARTHER RIMBAUD
Thou sprung of warrior loins amid hill shade,
A wind-like variance maketh odd thy life,
With wild adventure rife.
Thy child’s-feet, racing with thy thoughts unstaid
By fagging flesh, then won thee wider scope,
To fly thy kite of hope,
Than childhood can command. “All breaths are laid;
Flints glare; how far all birds and springs appear.
Hush! draws the world’s end near.”
Thy wondrous virile youth all Europe made
An unfenced hunting-park; its every tongue
Speaking, thou yet wert young:
And sun-got children met thee down each glade
-Familiar god or godess-gave thy days
A memorable face.
Yet she by all who fashion forms obeyed,
To whom the waves give birth eternally,
Alone was wooed by thee.
Fate-filled thy friendships were; and it is said,
Like Marlowe, forebear of heroic verse,
Thou wert where women curse,
And in a broil his price had all but paid.
Once manhood reached, world-wide became thy range
In search of new and strange.
The rumours of thy progress hardly fade
On those shores named by waves no vessels ride;
And sun-scorched sand-seas wide,
Are haunted by suspicion thou hast strayed
O’er them. For thou rov’dst like thy losel boat,
Which tenantless did float
Past monumental dreams on shores displayed
(Down world-long rivers) till dissolved by these
And drunk up by deep seas;
It, like thee, o’er their aspects sovereign swayed.
T. STURGE MOORE
MAURICE DE GUÉRIN
CERTAIN mansions in Art’s home, without being wealthy,
splendid, magisterial orofgod-gauged proportions,though
not always without, have a quality of apartness strangely
attractive. When the afternoon mist gnaws the hill-
hollow leech-like, till it become cavitous in the twilight,
and the head and shoulders of the mountain hang–like
of a crystal palace—above receding halls of quietude,
vaguely visible through the vapour-veil (transparent to the eye of Turner,
that man who scaled heaven every week-day, and on Sundays went to
Wapping; to other eyes but tantalizingly suggestive of discovery); there,
or, as Swinburne sings,
“Here, where the world is quiet,”
by the hearth of a mind, when the evensong dies down, Memory is a mother,
Passion a soulless woman of perfect charm, and, quite separate from her,
Love like a sister or dear friend clothed and in her right mind: there too
Mystery moves a maiden, Awe is a child, and Fear impossible.
Such is the aspect of mind or mountain not unfitly to be termed holy—
but for the narrow and squalid daily application of the word—which is found
from time to time the only, the chief or one of the decorations of a room
in our Lady’s House.
To me especially certain works, singly or collectively, of a few artists
seem to be the produce of such holy seclusion, not from the world, but in it:
the preface of Boccaccio’s Decameron, with its sweet all-fatherly benignity;
Dante’s Vita Nuova, the conceited, imaginative masque of love and attendant
To Chérie, the tragedy of love-starved maidenhood, De Goncourt has
imparted something of the parental tenderness of the old Italian; while
Rossetti’s House of Life has more than surpassed, at least in scope, the old
Other names might be added, other works particularized. I do not
attempt that completeness of criticism, necessarily futile, which leaves nought
unsaid: striving merely to give form to my own impression on reading the
work of De Guérin; ascribing to him the quality I have attempted to single
out from among the rich dowries of the masters.
The clatter of centaur heels has not the harsh factual ring of realism,
yet is perfectly whole in life-likeness; though separated by the immense
fog of time’s breath, palpable in the cold embrace of space, from our
“The rumbling of my going is more beautiful than the plaints of woods,
than the noise of water.”
When, cooled by night’s exhalation of day’s sweat, he in the mouth of
the cavern hears the inarticulate sleep-speech of the earth mother,—
“Then the foreign life, that had penetrated me during the day, detached
itself drop by drop, returning to the peaceful bosom of Cybele; as, after the
shower, the remnants of the rain attached to the leafage have their fall and
rejoin the runnels.”
‡ “At times, when watching in the caverns, I have believed that I was about
to overhear the dreams of the sleeping Cybele; and that the mother of gods,
betrayed by sleep, was babbling secrets: but I have never recognized aught
but sounds which dissolved in the breath of the night, or words inarticulate
as the bubbling hum of rivers.”
When his mother returns with material memories of the Unknown fresh
on her body,—
“My growing-up was almost entirely in the shades where I was born.
My abode was buried at such a depth in the thickness of the mountains,
that I should have been ignorant of the side of issue, if, turning astray some-
times in at this opening, the winds had not driven there freshets of air and
sudden troubles. Sometimes also my mother returned, surrounded with the
perfume of valleys, or dripping from waves she frequented. And, these
incomings she made without ever instructing me of valleys or rivers, but
followed by their emanations, disquieting my spirits, I roved to and fro
agitated in my shades. ‘What are they,” I said to myself, ‘these withouts,
to which my mother betakes herself, and in which reigns something of such
power that it calls her to it so frequently?’”
When, turning, he views his flanks’ labour,—
“Thus, while my agitated flanks possessed the inebriation of the course,
above them I relished its pride, and turning my head, I stayed myself
some time to consider my smoking crupper.”
When arrested in full gallop by imminent approach to the Unseen,—
“In the midst of the most violent courses, it has happened to me
suddenly to break off my gallop, as if an abyss yawned up to my feet, or a
god stood upright before me.”
Pervading these passages is the home-feeling of such rooms as reveal
Art housewifely. This sense within the sense is not perhaps the grandest
quality for the artist; yet is it not one of the rarest? and to it is here added
beauty of detailed—especially of landscape—description, as, in The Bacchante,
of the wind-cradled birds.
“When they, obeying the shades, lower their flight towards the forests,
their feet stay themselves against branches, which, piercing into the sky, are
easily rocked by gusts which pass across the night.
For even into their sleep they revel in the seizure of the wind; and like
‡ Many, probably, may here stop, surprised to find
freshly handled, work already
once finished and signed by Matthew Arnold. He, in remodelling each sentence,
seems not only to become a distinct but a distant echo. “What is it,’ I cried, ‘this
outside world whither my mother is borne, &c.,’” this is not literal, and tastes ready
made to my palate; as does not the piquant personal use of the word “dehors” as
exceptional in French as its literal transcript in English.
their plumage to shiver and dispart at the least breaths that come upon
the top of the woods.”
After a day which the warm wine of Bacchus has made drowsy,—
“The birds lifted themselves above the woods, searching the sky, if the
going of the winds is re-established; but, still drunken, their wings barely
furnished a rickety flight full of error.”
A marvel too this latter work; though not approaching The Centaur
in realization, yet has it, and perhaps on this account, a more unbridled
sympathy with the moodiness of Nature melting Maenad mountain and
moving sea into a common existence.
“Sometimes from the hesitation of her steps, seeking assurance, and from
the air of her head, constrained and laden, one had said she walked at the
bottom of the ocean.”
“When I stayed my feet on the highest of the hills, I shook like the statues
of the gods in the arms of priests who lift them up to the sacred pedestals.”
This oneness with Nature was his as a little lad, when the wind went
through him, standing under, as through the branches bending over, and
drew from both an adequate expression.
“Oh! how beautiful they are, those noises of Nature, those noises abroad
in the airs, which rise with the sun and follow him; follow the sun as a
grand concert follows a king.
Those noises of waters, of winds, of woods, of hills, of valleys; the
rollings of thunders and of globes in space; magnificent noises, with which
are mixed the finer voices of birds and of thousands of chanting beings. At
each step, under each leaf, is a little violin.
Oh! how beautiful they are, those noises of Nature, those noises abroad
in the airs.
How full of them are the days of summer! What resoundings, when the
plains burst into life and joy like big grown-up girls; when from all sides
rise laughter and songs; the cadence of flails through the air, with the
accompaniment of crickets …. and those harmonious and inexpressible
breaths that are without doubt the guardian angels of the fields; those
angels who have for hair the rays of the sun.
Oh! how beautiful they are, those noises of Nature, those noises abroad
in the airs.”
Of the man, author of these few pages where one scents, plucked in
Mnemosyne’s hand, flowers which bloomed nigh two thousand years ago,
finding them just as sweet as to-day’s with this difference, the pungency of
immortality, we know all that is ever known of the dead, friends’ opinions,
letters, journal, and all, to the least facts of his life, uninteresting, apparently
unimportant, except as fetters. Many, whom his work attracts, by its
freedom from the cloying of modern circumstance so pitifully visible even
in the best work, would turn in disgust from the man, never freed entirely
from a repulsive Christianity, to which his nature was antipathetic. His
journal and letters are, however, enlivened by draughtsmanlike sketches
of landscape, though burdened by much soul-questioning, doubting and
obduracy of dogmatic faith.
Among his most famous critics have been Georges Sand, Sainte-Beuve
and Matthew Arnold. The first wrote him a worthy panegyric, by way of
introduction to fame: with the two latter, however much we may admire
their characters as men, the foolish notion of immaculate criticism blights
all freshness of individual sympathy, or nearly all, in their work; both seem
chiefly engrossed with the capacity for wear presented by the cloak of acci-
dent, which in this case proves too heavy for the spirit-fire and ends by
‡ Matthew Arnold, when he leaves the man for the essential artist, com-
pares him to Keats; which comparison seems to me inept. De Guérin had
none of the splendid virility and spontaneity of Keats; Keats had not De
Guérin’s exquisite taste and next to perfect finish. Keats is ardent, creative,
curious; De Guérin reflective, analytical, nice. They have in common deli-
cate susceptibility,—a small link to chain the frank revelry of the Englishman
to the composed reserve of the Frenchman.
To my mind the work presenting the closest English equivalent to De
Guérin’s is the Marius of Pater, though wider in scope, more difficult of
execution, and less evidently perfect in realization; there is a staid manner-
liness in their treatment, and a ruminant delectation of after-thought, so at
variance with Keats’s masterly relish of attainment, which to the manly
might of his impetuosity appeared always discovery.
He said, “If a sparrow come before my window, I take part in its exis-
tence and pick about the gravel.” How different the “Toutes choses mieux
ressenties que senties” of De Guérin; whose nature, if not ample like that
of Keats, is rare, refined, a thing set apart for the delight of separate natures,
lulling them into the reflective mood of long interminable summer afternoons,
the indolent mental season of mature comprehensive possession!
‡ Had I read Mr. Swinburne’s essay on Matthew Arnald, I
had rejoiced to have quoted
pas-sages in my corroboration; and I only regret none could have been found to
confirm a, to my mind, right appriciation of De Guérin’s masterly prose.
ON A PICTURE BY PUVIS DE CHAVANNES.
A spacious land lies large in broad daylight;
A warm wind healthily goes to and fro,
As a dear woman here might come and go;
In courtesy the trees incline their height,
Rustling their robes as folk at a wedding might;
And full of flowers the grass, by scythes laid low,
Scents the sunshine, while peeps the weak willow
Into pride’s paradise in waters bright.
A patriarchal people dwell in peace
And plenty perfect without wealth’s increase;
Nursed in the lap of lowland hills, their homes
Are gay with flowers; both morn and evening airs
Are guests within their doors; and for their prayers
Cows safely calve, bees build big honeycombs.
Their couch the pliant strength of lusty grass,
Cool shade of leaves their canopy, “Alas,”
Sing many maidens, crouched upon their knees
Or lain full-length among the flowers for ease,
“Alas, how slow, how slow,
Time’s hobby-horse does go.”
Some hold their hands above their heads, to touch
And handle—Eve-forgetting—fruit, so much
Their cheeks’ colour yet cool unlike their cheeks.
Their taste-stung tongues still tell, how “Every week’s
A week of weeks; so slow
Time’s hobby-horse can go.”
To idle hearts the day is weariness,
And to lax limbs the land heart’s heaviness;
For all their hearts are healed: long time ago
Hunter Love satisfied hung up his bow.
Their song dies down as slow
As Time’s play-horse can go.
LOVE LIES BLEEDING.SONG FROM A FAIRY TALE.
Love lies bleeding,
On flesh which swords have stricken.
Should sweet blood clot and thicken?
How could they slay him so,
When were pleading
Such eyes as his, you know?
Such eyes, such woe!
THE LITTLE BROWN WOOD-MOUSE.
A little brown wood-mouse
His ample fur cloak doffed,
Then tied his comforter
Before he left the house;
’Twas lamb’s wool, bleached and soft.
To see his tail was there,
He turned his head;
Then off he sped,
To look if beech-nuts were
Silver or red.
The sun makes dust on the highways;
The wind pokes fun at the geese;
With feathers blown all sideways,
In walking they find no ease.
Let them spread wings, in it rushes,
As though to bulge out a sail;
Away they’re blown, on the bushes
To wreck like yawls in a gale.
LES CHERCHEUSES DE POUX.AFTER ARTHUR RIMBAULD.
When, forehead full of torments hot and red,
The child invokes white crowds of hazy dreams,
Two sisters tall and sweet draw near his bed,
Whose fingers frail nails tip with silv’ry gleams.
The child before a window open wide,
Where blue air bathes a maze of flowers, they sit;
And in his heavy hair dew falls, while glide
Their fingers terrible with charm through it.
So hears he sing their breath which dread hush curbs;
How rich with rose and leafy sweets it is!
It sometimes a salival lisp disturbs
On th’ lip drawn back, or deep desires to kiss.
Through perfumed silences their lashes black
Beat slow; from soft electric fingers he,
In colourless grey indolence, hears crack
’Neath tyrant nails the death of each small flea.
Then wells in him the wine of idleness,
Delirious power, the harmonica’s soft sigh:
The child still feels to their long drawn caress
Ceaselessly heave and swoon a wish to cry.
To work at sunrise nor till sunset rest,
Week’s end spliced in week’s end: ’twas thus he wrought;
Tools blunt—not patience tempered by hot thought.
With eager bare arms leant across her breast
He chiselled chin or cheek, and, where they pressed,
His labour’s sweat made bright the marble bust.
At length she stands amid the workshop dust
In proudest pose of loveliness undressed.
His work once stayed, he, weakened by long strife,
Falls like a swathe from summer-heat’s keen scythe:
So sees he, waking at the day’s decease,—
Not the sea-mothered mother of all life,
Then vanished—but alone, alive he sees
A naked woman quailing at the knees.
ON A DRAWING BY C.H.S.
Deep-noted thy bucolic peace,
Such as no rose-lured insect hum
Or witty water-splash can tease;
In staid divine delirium
Entranced till princely Palma come
T. STURGE MOORE.
GATHERED together on the lea-slopes, trees jostle
elbows in sheer jolliness; wind makes cornfields heave
in waves, like the sunny locks spread over a little girl’s
shoulders, who on the nursery floor lies laughing over
her Nonsense Book; and blue skies grow jealous of the
rival beauty of many streams, which gladden that land
where stands, under steep tile roofs, the red-brick, slit-windowed, tail-
towered castle of King Comfort.
This fortress was never even shaken by fierce assault or battery’s bluff
bluster; first, because the mortar its walls were built with had been welded
with dragon’s blood; secondly, as no one ever made attack or fired cannon
against its walls.
On its blue bosom a moat bore water-lilies beneath the ladies’ bower;
and not infrequently apple-parings, crayfish claws, and other refuse swam
on its shadow-blackened surface under the scullery-grate.
“Creak, creak,” went the well-winder, while chain and pail rattled down
to the depths; the groom, scratching his poll, stood and watched pigeons,
whose nerves, never wrung with headache, give not the least start at the
harsh cry of the iron; which stopped, he ejaculates “I’ll swill ditch slush
rather than believe but what the king lives,” then bends his back and
lengthens his arms as he labours at the now weighted handle. But when
the bucket arrived at the top, mopping himself, he groaned out “By all the
wool-spools my mother’s spun, bless her heart, I’m as sure as that crabs are
less sweet than pippins that good old Comfort’s stone dead.”
Then, the stable-lad flung the kennel doors open, and bulldogs, beagles,
harriers, spaniels, retrievers, black, piebald, fox-coloured, milk-splashed,
rush yelping, barking, and bounding into the court, while the pigeons wheel
into the air; a great mastiff oversets the newly drawn water.
What Gunter said after the second descent of the pail, cannot be
recorded; for it was more fit to have issued forth from the gargoyles, which
yawned, like griffins, devils, belial-men, and bishops, round the roof, while
swallows built nests between their rumps and the coping.
Prince Pleasaunce, straddling his legs as wide as the arch of a stone
bridge, stood in breeches of tan kid, which sprung, like sturdy oak saplings,
from green velvet shoes gashed with white puffs; his coat, lined with fox-
fur, hung open to the knees, within it a saffron doublet crossed by a maze
of straps shining with buckles, to which hung his hunting-horn, knives, and
wallets; he held between his teeth the lithe end of a dog-lash, while the short
handle, made from a hart’s foot, swung among a litter of boar-hound pups;
they frisked, gambolled, and tumbled together in attempts to seize it, while
their mother blinked at them from the sunlight that streamed through the
hall-windows, over the head of his cousin Gascoigne.
Who, legs out-thrust, lounged on a settle, dressed scarcely less gaily than
the other (capped with grey blue satin, a black plume of cock’s feathers
a-top), now and again grabbing at motes which spun in the large rays above.
“Say, Pleassy, I don’t mind waging a sly couple of cousin Nell’s
kisses, the old boy’s heart’s cold, that is to say, you’re king, lad.” Presently,
receiving no answer from his pup-engrossed cousin, he got up; strolled
out over the drawbridge, then round by the moat, till he was under
the bower-lattice; flopped down on the bank; and began to throw small
stones in the moat, striking up at the same time a roundelay. In a few
moments a display of wonderful caps flowered out from the windows, and
showerlike little laughs, “Good morning, cousin,” “Holiday health to Sir
Gascoigne,” “A merry matin,” “Fine day, Sir,” “Hope ye quit bed the
right side,” and like pleasant phrases dropt in the grass all round.
“Is poor Leonine’s foot healed?”
“O, don’t bother about dogs! I can’t bear them, they always smell
“O, how can you! not when they’re kept sweet.”
“No, indeed, my sweet mistresses; there’s many a gallant, I assure you,
prefers his dogs to the ladies, though, in my opinion, with loss thereby of
right to the title.”
“Ah! they rank equally with you.”
“No! now give me a chance; I’d swop a whole pack against any of
your neat selves.”
“Oh! oh! flattery.”
“ Does one of my witching queens know whether the king, haply, yet
lives ? ”
All the girl-flowers vanish instantly; presently one only returns with
“Hush, you must not shout so; but this moment there was light along the
gallery, and the king’s daughter walked.”
“Ah, you lazy lout, stealing the dripping! There you go, slobberin’ it
on your face!—Body of me! if thou wasn’t such a wain-load, I’d ha’ caught
the knave, and lugged his ear for’im,—them boys’s always got their lips to
sucking something they’d no right touch.—Bless my puckered thumbs!
what’s a’ that? Lor! beg pardon, I’m sure, sir, but your black hat is that
tall,—well it just be nothing more nor less than a witch’s steeple.”
“Good cook, have no fears. I come from my prince, commissioned to
add a wee pinch of spice, some little tit-bit, dainty morsel, or as the French
put it ‘bonne bouche,’ to the apple charlotte I hear you have prepared so skil-
fully for the daughter of our royal master.”
“O, sir, it’s no great matter to make a charlotte; I’ve done billions on
’em in my time.—Well! I wouldn’t have thought that white powder ’Id make
mickle difference; looks just like sugar.”
“Yes, my good woman, it indeed is a subtle sweetener, most calming to
the constitution. Have you a boy, haply, who might precede me with it to the
king’s chamber? I would not let it out of my sight, for fear of accidents.”
“Aye, sir, I bet there be a plenty hanging round ready to filch some’at
when one’s back’sturned.—Here,Tom—Sid—one o’ you lubbers; make your-
self a bit spruce off to the pump.—He’ll be back ’fore a flea jumps, your
The upper hall, weakly illumined with tallow dips; a gallery across its
further end, to which leads a stairway on the left; on the right a huge hearth
with its piled unlit logs; stray gleams twinkle like stars from false eyes, jetty
claws, or shiny teeth all round; a long table runs under the gallery loaded
with viands; servants move to and fro.
While, at the near end of the hall, under windows against which rain
rattles, talk, almost lost in shadows, a group of courtiers.
“I say she’s a witch.”
“Nay, nay, for she’s my sister.”
“I beg your highness’s pardon, but I think you must admit there’s excuse.”
“Well, may be so.”
“I hope that your highness would not take it ill, should she die
“No, my fondness could bear the strain.”
“Master Fustian is barely descended to the kitchen, so if you’d rather—”
“No, she is a traitor; for any who intercepts the authority of a sovereign
“What I’m afraid of is, frankly, her tricks.”
“I fear failure.”
“Failure, pooh! barely possible, so far as I see.”
“But look, here comes Master Fustian with the dish.”
“Bah! what a clumsy clown! he’s got stumbling at the first step.”
“Up they go.”
Along the gallery light shines, and the king’s daughter walks.
The boy stumbles and falls back on Master Fustian; they finish the descent
together. Master Fustian, spitting all over the floor,—
“Gracious me! I believe—Oh! have pity, pity, my God! I think I have
got some of it on my lips, my tongue. Oh! I’m lost, as good as dead!
In which enters from a side door the prince’s pretty wife and her maidens.
Her he had married and a bad temper; he rather would have had her
alone, but could in no way help himself.
That night, getting her tantrums, she broke from its gold mount the
coral branch which stood on the dressing-table for her rings to hang on;
caught her foot in the new silver-embroidered bed-testers, tearing loose half
a dozen yards; flounced about; stamped her feet so hard she hurt them;
then cried, and said it was his fault; at last said she would not have him
in bed with her, and with an “I hate you” bade him crawl under.
Which he, though brave enough on horseback, began to do.
When a draught blew open the half-latched door, and a light shone in;
outside there walked the king’s lonely daughter.
The prince scrambled out and slammed the door; nevertheless, seemingly,
the tantrums had found time to escape, for his wife said no more about going
under the bed.
If on getting in he was pinched black and blue, as she had threatened, he
made no one wiser about it.
Gusts teased the jolly trees till, wrathful, they cursed; the sky, black and
rugged as an old tarred barge-bottom, took a rusty glow of resentment from
the torches; all the folk stood shivering round the Home of Comfort.
The prince advances towards a great pile of combustibles heaped against
the walls, a torch in his hand.
Flames leap, roar, and flare up into the sky; but the spiteful wind drives
them over, not on the castle but on the crowd, scattering it on all sides.
They would, in another instant, have caught autumn-dried hedge and tree,
and have stretched devastating away over the country. But the king’s
daughter’s taper gleams out of the great hall-window where she walks; at
the same instant the flames gobble one another up, and die away like fire-
Then a voice roared out from the interior, as from a giant’s huge
“Both hale and well and blithe and bland
I live when no one cares for me:
But he that would close grasp my hand
A dwindling death is sure to see.
But I’m King Comfort after all;
Sins I can pardon great and small,
And need none handy to my call
Save my dear daughter, Privacy.”
T. STURGE MOORE.
Listen, bright lady, thy deep pansie eyes
Made never answer when my eyes did pray,
Than with those quaintest looks of blank surprise,
But my love-longing has devised a way
To mock thy living image, from thy hair
To thy rose toes, and keep thee by alway.
My garden’s face is o! so maidly fair,
With limbs all tapering, and with hues all fresh;
Thine are the beauties all that flourish there.
Amaranth, fadeless, tells me of thy flesh;
Briar-rose knows thy cheek; the Pink thy pout;
Bunched kisses dangle from the Woodbine mesh.
I love to loll, when Daisy stars peep out,
To hear the music of my garden dell,
Hollyhock’s laughter, and the Sunflower’s shout,
And many whisper things I dare not tell.
LES DEMOISELLES DE SAUVE
Beautiful ladies through the orchard pass;
Bend under crutched-up branches, forked and low,
Trailing their samet palls o’er dew-drenched grass.
Pale blossoms, looking on proud Jacqueline,
Blush to the colour of her finger tips,
And rosy knuckles, laced with yellow lace.
High-crested Berthe discerns, with slant, clinched eyes,
Amid the leaves, pink faces of the skies:
She locks her plaintive hands Sainte-Margot-wise.
Ysabeau follows last with languorous pace;
Presses, voluptuous, to her bursting lips,
With backward stoop, a bunch of eglantine.
Courtly ladies through the orchard pass;
Bow low, as in lords’ halls, and springtime grass
Tangles a snare to catch the tapering toe.
THE UNWRITTEN BOOK
THE accusation was brought against our first Dial of
mere art eclecticism; one thing, keenly attractive to us,
might explain this reprehensible selectiveness, a little
thing we think common to all good art. Inseparable
from the garment of individuality, the word Document
perfectly explains this.
Record of some remembered delight, record perhaps of a mere moment in
transfigured life, producing and controlling it, the word Document represents
some exquisite detail in a masterpiece, convincing to the spectator as a thing
known, yet not of necessity the symbol of borrowed story—possibly, there,
the mere symbol of time. A thing easily imagined away from a picture, but
authoritative there, as a gesture, or poetical recollection, the lattice-light cast
upon the wall in Rossetti’s “Proserpine,” the azalea near the scattered hair
in Whistler’s “White Harmony, number three,” might be chosen to prove
that Document is not necessarily the mere machinery giving vraisemblance
to positive subject, for these pictures are almost without it.
Rossetti, it is true, adds to his work a sonnet, and between this and the
picture some delicate interchime penetrates the sense with a conviction in
its symbol, adding meaning to the well-like light; to the fatality that seems
to brood about the shadows; to this face that listens to the ebb and flow of
footsteps hastening. The fateful pomegranate might, however, be put into
the hand of many an Italian portrait, the title Donna Innominata painted
on the frame would not destroy this picture’s memorableness—to-morrow the
name Proserpine might be given to Da Vinci’s Monna Lisa, and so, seem-
ingly, unseal its secret. In Whistler’s “White Harmony” the subject is
intentionally fugitive,—a chosen place where ladies live, with something of
the pale life of lilies listening to the music of their shapes. Yet in this
secret air that drowses over the perfume of hair and flower, and penetrating,
as it were, this mute harmony, some stray notes would convey undertone-
symbol, preexistence, and chime about the picture faintly, like evening music
echoed by a river.
These works have been chosen for their lack of story, in its common
acceptance; and so we come easily to the colour exclamation on some Chinese
enamel, dabbed there in vibrant crimson on a liquid purple, where no subject
can exist at all; yet this thing, by its cunning spontaneity, will give the emo-
tion that sudden movement adds to nature—the ripple of grass in a summer
landscape for instance—and so become Document —that monument of moods.
A viol left on a lowering bough by some singer who has ceased, one mari-
gold drowned in a space of water, would convey, within a picture and with-
out, this sense of existence and preexistence, this sense of time.
In the work of the English Pre-Raphaelites, document has been chiselled
in new-cleft gems; in Impressionism, it has been wrapped in strokes that
waved into air, or that palpitated into light; far be it then from us to claim
it treasure trove, for we think it inseparable from all art excellence—capable
even of being spun to the veriest gossamer thread of definition. More
common thirty years ago than at present, it may appear unfamiliar, its
recentness has made it obsolete and strange.
We make no claim to originality, not feeling wiser than did Solomon who
doubtless wrote the Song of Songs; for all art is but the combination of
known quantities, the interplay of a few senses only; that some spirit seems
to transfuse these, is due to a cunning use of a sixth sense—the sense of
possible relation commonly called Soul, probably a second sense of touch
more subtle than the first—and this sense is more common to the craftsman
used to self-control than habit would allow.
We would therefore avoid all taint of announced reform for those patheti-
cally persistent in demanding it; dawn itself promises day only to some,
not to all; and Art has been, Art is, this is the pledge that it will be
“Fresh with some colour, a cloud breaks upon the sky. Dawn grows,
wanes, and stretches fibres of frail light; this is the signal to white hazy
moths to shimmer above the gummy vines; and stagnant water grows
steel-like and hard.
“Suddenly the cock crows; he is awake; long before, he has mistaken one
or two accidents in the night for signals that he should announce the light, his
accuracy in utterance is merely sentimental.”
One word more of apology.
All past effort has seemed more conscious of aim, more direct, than it was
really; we imagine an effort towards renaissance, springing from a white
hand beckoning above the ashes of some forgotten city, and seen at some
time by one in whom the possible germ of a new art was placed. Again,
revelation has come to one reading a book, or to one who fancies he has seen
a grey torso beneath a cliff in some forgotten creek, and that it rocked with
the water’s motion. We forget those previous years, wasted in barren yearn-
ing, satisfied at last by something contemporary; imitation following, too
often without knowledge of the new result attained.
To-day the announcement that you believe in Nature, or in Ideas, affords
claim to originality, and we would avoid this announcement. By the word
Idea is meant, that formulated experience of the many, their guarantee in
life against future failure. Strange, this flattery of common thought, this
useless pandering to the crowd, incapable in its appreciation to surpass the
annual shilling or two, for some exhibition; for its characteristic is peevish
lassitude—the bankruptcy of disinterest; the reviews have long since assured
it as to contemporary lack of originality, separating this work from that
master, to attribute it to his wife.
Indifference is only crested at times by little exasperated words, frost-
bitten fronds, crooked and meaningless: let admiration be one of the reasons
for the Dial to exist; admiration, so often fruitful of self-respect, nay more,
it is “the essence of all art”—it is that which makes us wish in childhood,
when power is not yet, and before experience has shut the gates, for larger
flowers, something that would prevent soft, gentle beasts from walking away,
the growth of berried twigs so out of reach, for these are the first stray waifs
of all art feeling. Let the great artists yet alive be witness that copybook
culture is the only reason for this colourless currency in art and thought;
the rainbow of Art is still there for Hope to look through, all pleasantness
has not been snatched from the meadows and hills of Nature’s royalty, Art
has been, Art is, so the present touches wings with the past.
“In the naif delight and fantastic objectiveness we call primitive art
feeling, space was found for the august and reticent personality of Piero
della Francesca; his work was sweet besides with occasional convolvulus ten-
dril, or nestling finch, gay in some trick of dress revealing personality, some
shapely gem or crown of selected leaf. Giorgione painted the Greek Theseus
—but as St. George naked in a brook, his work fulfilled. Since then the
world would expect this development with the budding of the garden peas,
that quality with the bursting of the pod. Experience would, for conveni-
ence, separate the quality of form from its blossoming into colour, little caring
to note its oneness—for in continuance from environing space, to the central
surfaces, Form, Greek Form, as it is called, is colour; colour is continued
line; without it, form is but some personal conviction not visual at all, a
mental building into air, a reasoned spanning of given space. Change, with
its contradiction, its return to the past, appears again in Romantic Art, which,
nevertheless, would control Art and Nature more than did the older styles;
dominate it by individuality at high vibrant pitch—Nature strained into
symbolic action, and in an atmosphere dyed by personal feeling.—Slowly
the old fantastic details of primitive art return, with these, the old
ness; lyrical movement recoils, becomes arrested, a tense immobility ensues,
more ultimate than the great calm of the Antique, for upon the Parthenon,
the great divine limbs leap and rebound, the draperies cling close to flesh,
deep with the possibility of sweat.”
1 THE BRIDAL ❧ 2 ELLA THE SHE-BEAR
“HOW SEEMETH, HOW
SEEMETH “THIS IS NOT A SAVAGE
OUR ANNA MITREVNA?” IT IS ELKA, THE SHE-DRAGON.”
The ground-mist folds round the green earth in a
robe that is grey below, but rose against the sky,
circling tree-tops as a sea circles islands; the tree-
tops look wan. Rises the sun refreshed like a bride-
groom; Mother Earth shivers through her veils, like
a bride ; the hills sigh softly; hedge-flowers gleam
with a whiteness of morning stars, raising tiny cups,
tiny crowns, all, save those that muse till it is day.
Now the high roads echo, echo loudly, with brisk
footfalls, gay talking, and much laughter; each
maiden, in a green or new red kirtle, each beautiful
damsel, is bright with ribands and neatly braided
hair. Fine young fellows, on swift horses, ride up
from the cross-roads, with greetings to the chatting
parents, brightest glances for the daughters, and
they ask—“Where is this feast and beautiful be-
trothal of Anna Mitrevna, the fair Anna Mitrevna,
to that powerful lord Ivan Timofeievich?”—and all
give prompt answer, with hands raised forward to
sweep the horizon, “There! there is no bidding, all
are welcome; and, oh! how merry will be this
merry wedding, and glad with many people; so bide with us, as we are
Fresh grass becomes trodden by hastening feet; the morning air tingles
to the sound of gay guslas; the White House gleams in dew-dipped sun-
light; about jump happy people, with heavy feet they jump in circles,
thumping the ground, they dance with outstretched arms, singing—“Oh!
singing ha, and ha, this merry wedding!”
“Come, come, bright
Come forth, good people!
I have caught Katenka, Katenka,
In my cornfield, nigh the oak-grove,
Katenka, to be my bride.”
Within the house, fair Anna Mitrevna sits among the tire-maidens. They
have washed her white limbs, they have robed them in silk, and combed her
pale thin hair with a silver comb, they have braided her hair till it hangs
below her girdle, the girdle is of silk well spun: in a diadem of gold, she sits
among the maidens; they laugh softly, but she does not laugh; her mother
has fallen on her neck and passionately kissed her, yet she could not weep.
Anna Mitrevna is tall, slender as a Rousalka, her face is white, her eyes
are like hawk’s eyes, and she sits among the maidens.
Lord Ivan has come, with all his kinsmen, to woo, to seek the damsel;
he asks of some of her near companions, “How seemeth, but how seemeth,
our Anna Mitrevna?” and they chant and sing the bridal song, and answer
him, that she is tall, and very slender, as a Rousalka, her hair is plaited to
her waist,—golden the hair, but light beneath the golden crown—and her
eyes are like a hawk’s.
Anna’s portly father donned a flowered robe and called loudly to his
daughter, whilst hired singers carol a merry song; yet the bridegroom waits.
Her mother has folded in stately folds the wedding veil; but the bride
does not move.
Ivan’s father has taken her by the hand, her parents push gently at her
shoulders: they leave the room, the outer threshold, where waits the noble
wooer looking handsome. His mantle is of marten’s skin, his curly head
bonny with a scarlet cap, trimmed about with silver; thus he stands before
“You, you can not hold
Yet you would kiss me,
Boris, with your lips, Boris!
Yours pout like a grey mushroom,
Mine laugh like a rose”
But, faltering, she grapples with his sturdy shoulders, cries in his face
“Thou red-eyed devil! cruel devil! ah! with those red eyes! red with
blood! also thy hands, that most treacherously slew Vladimir Kamarazin,
my comely, my beloved lover!”
She tears the dagger from his belt, thrusts it in his breadth of breast,
holding on with both hands till his cruel heart is pierced, and with gaze
revulsed he falls to the damp earth for a bridal-bed, a dead bride by his side
upon the chilly ground, for his brothers have slain her.
The red sun sets behind the forest, now it is time for her soul to depart,
departing thus it addresses the sinful body and bitterly laments:
“Farewell! farewell! oh thou, my white body! poor body! thou hast
felt but little joy, yet so much sorrow; thou goest, sinful body, to the cold
earth to be devoured, to be dissolved.—There lies Vladimir Kamarazin.
I cannot dissolve, or lie in the still ground with Vladimir Kamazarin! for
I, the soul, must go to grief eternal, to a terrible, an eternal agony.”
2 ELLA THE SHE-BEAR.
“Since thou hast parted from thy
Thou art a pale yellow.
Like a yellow orange,
And like a green bush.”
How snug was the bears’ house in winter: it was pleasant to listen to the
tinkle of the falling snow as it crept without, or cunningly clomb the pine-
trunks, to get back to Mother Sky; but the bears’ house was pleasanter in
summer, for about it a cool black pine-wood hummed and talked, broad
fragrant boughs drooped above the door; yet, in a damp cave, some few
rocks beyond the thinning of the trees, lived the She-Dragon Elka, the
White Enchantress who loved beautiful men, but doted most upon young
husbands. She was wicked and subtle, so many mothers had she made to
mourn, in the hamlets through the absence of lovers the gardens drooped,
and the graves blossomed. Bridal sheets, well spun with loud singing,
remained unbleached, for the brooks were full of tears. Prowling at night
in the shape of a She-Bear, she called the youthful shepherds “sweetheart,”
and by her cunning enchantments seemed to them a white woman; tall as
a green palm, softer than driven snow, white cream, or the sprinkling of the
plum in blossom; when they had tasted of her treacherous lips, they grew
very wan and yellow; as bushes do in autumn, they faded away. But to
those Elka did not love she seemed a grey She-Bear; and the bears hated
her, gladly they would have killed her, but how could they? They bitterly
cursed her when she was not near; mother-bears were troubled if the father
spake of her doings, and they would have slain her, but they dared not.
One Saturday, the little Ella heard these things, as her mother combed
her fur; the little She-Bear seemed as though she did not listen, yet her
honied eyes flashed, like sungleams caught in cruel icicles; she shut them
that she might the better remember, and thought “it would be very pleasant
to be an enchantress, seemingly like a soft woman, with a face like a blossom-
ing tree, soft as the drift of the blossoming plum, and to love beautiful men.”
Came the young spring coyly as a betrothed—like a bride, with nosegays
upon her green kirtle—and she whispered to the black pines who laughed
into light buds: running among the trees she filled them with scents and
airs, the banks with soft strawberries and furry mosses. When the tender
corn skipped from the ground the very rills sang like birds. Ella’s desire
burst from bud into blossom, her coat shone like silk, with a lovesong in
each ear, she has left her mother; to each stranger she has said, “I am Elka
the White Dragon.”
Malemka, Sirma, Daria, sweet maidens all, washed winding-sheets in the
brook, Irma made poppy-cakes. Each sister was stripped to the waist, the
men being away, all save the dead man their brother; as they washed the
winding-cloths, with the flow of the waters they wept.
When they saw Ella they started and fled, so left the linen, to float down
the stream to the eddies, past the mill, to the eddies, to the bridge, where
the little children said, “Look! look! at the drowned white woman in the
Young Ella wondered at her wisdom, her spells, for he was of great beauty,
the shepherd Stoyan, and stalwart as he lay on the couch, but a faded lily
his face—his eyes she could not see, for, as the bud hides the honey-drop,
his eyelids hid his glance; he slept.
Ella’s heart throbbed like a cuckoo’s song, she whispered softly, “’Tis I,
’tis I, my dear love! dear love, why dost thou hide thine eyes from me?
’tis I, yes I, thine Elka, thy loving enchantress.”
Now the men have left the pits, and some the kilns, or the hewing of
wood; they droop their heads like grass, their hands like falling leaves, for
their sisters and sisters-in-law have told them how the cruel Elka is with
poor Stoyan, Stoyan who has died of her many enchantments, “and we left
the winding-sheets to float down the river;”
“A bird flew away with a poppy-cake, and with it my heart fled away.”
Then all longed to kill the enchantress, but they dared not, they wished
to slay her, but how could they? Yet a priest who was old, comforted them,
“Rather let us rejoice, that God, in his goodness, has delivered her into
our hands, for mark ye, good people, that it is day, and not night, for it is
noon; let each man take him a cudgel, and let Michel, the son of Nicholas,
toll the bell, that warns the people of the passing of spirits, perchance this
spirit is but some stray Lamia not clothed by the night.”
Poor, poor foolish Ella half died with fear when came the pealing and
rolling of the bell; she shook and moaned, and would have entreated the
enchantress, but she dared not; gladly would she have fled, but how could
she? she crept crying to the door, where Basil, the stalwart woodman, struck
her with his axe, and all the brave young fellows beat her into a thousand
3 SNOW IN SPRING.
“The streams gush from the heart of the
The earth as she sorrows.
If the sun knew half the sorrow of the earth,
The earth in sorrow,
The sun would turn pale and hollow, like the Moon.”
The Sister. The apple-bloom like snow tinged with
blood drifts to the
earth, my brother, my red sun, do not go away, this is snow in spring.
The Brother. Do not weep for me, my sister, do not sob
like a labouring
brook, snow melts in water, your tears will not melt this snow; the apple-
bloom in spring is ever flecked with blood, for the earth and pine-roots crave
for blood in spring, till the Infidel be driven away; and, oh my flower-sister!
the little brooks will wash my body of its sins, each eye they will wash clean
as a separate crystal, that my eyes may forget. The tree-roots will comb
my hair; the earth kiss and wrap each limb of mine; for if I die, will not
the birds bury the hero, the willow and elder sing me to sleep? and the
purple anemones, that are the eyes of the field, will watch above my grave.
The Sister. Brother! brother! didst thou not hear the
sobbing of the
wood-pigeons to the pines? the pigeons that have stolen their murmurs
from the brooks. The pine-trunks reel red, drunk with blood:—Oh, my
brother! the oak-trees tell me that in spring the gallows-tree grows in Priapol
for the merriment of the governor’s wife, the governor’s children: for those
whose grave is not already red in the woods, the gallows puts on boughs.
And behold, as he went by the high roads, the birds, the trees, the rivers,
and the little brooks said to him “do not go,” and the apple-trees said “this
is snow in spring; the wasting of thy fruit; thou art snow in spring,
through thee a maiden’s womb shall swell with nought but barren longing.”
And the rivers said “We shall wash thee of all thy blood, wash thee, so
will the rains.” And the tree-roots crept nearer, “We shall comb thy hair
with our grey fingers, the birds and the winds will bury thee with leaves
that did not live.” Then the black earth said, “I shall rock thee in my
lap, bind thee with night, and kiss thy lips that thou mayest never see, or
remember, whilst the willow and elder will sing thee to sleep.”
When he, the hero, had met the wanderer on the spot
near the road,
where the trees grow thinly, the elder-tree said to the dead man, “Lo! I
and the willow sing thee to sleep, were we not right? thou frost in spring!”
but he smiled at their song. The earth, wrapping him round, said, “I was
right!” yet he opened not his mouth, and the birds told the rivers, and
the rivers complained.
But he laughed, because he knew they could not mean what they said.
WE WOULD THANK
TSM. & HJR.
WHOSE TIMELY AID
MADE POSSIBLE THE
PUBLICATION OF THIS
NUMBER OF THE DIAL.
The Dial, vol. 2, 1892. Dial Digital Edition, edited by Lorraine Janzen Kooistra, 2018-2020. Yellow Nineties 2.0, Ryerson University Centre for Digital Humanities, 2019. https://1890s.ca/dialv2-all/