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- AE in the Irish Theosophist - 30/53 -
carry always about with us in imagination, as [wrote] Walt Whitman, "those delicious burdens, men and women."
--November 15, 1893
The Mystic Nights' Entertainment
We went forth gay in the twilight's cover; The dragon Day with his ruddy crest Blazed on the shadowy hills hung over The still grey fields in their dewy rest.
We went forth gay, for all ancient stories Were told again in our hearts as we trod; Above were the mountain's dawn-white glories; We climbed to it as the throne of God.
We pitched our tents in a sheltered nook on the mountain side. We were great with glee during the day, forecasting happy holidays remote from the crowded city. But now as we sat round the camp fire at dusk silence fell upon us. What were we to do in the long evenings? I could see Willie's jolly face on the other side of the fire trying to smother a yawn as he refilled his pipe. Bryan was watching the stars dropping into their places one by one. I turned to Robert and directed the general attention to him as a proper object for scorn. He had drawn a pamphlet on some scientific subject from his breast-pocket and was trying to read it by the flickering light.
"Did you come up to the mountains for this," I asked, "to increase your knowledge of the Eocene age? Put it by, or--we will send it up as a burnt offering to the stars."
"Well," he said, looking rather ashamed, "one must do something, you know. Willie has his pipe, Bryan is holding some mysterious intercourse with the planets, and you have the fire to take care of. What is one to do?"
This went to the root of the matter. I pondered over it awhile, until an idea struck me.
"There is Bryan. Let him tell us a story. He was flung into life with a bundle of old legends. He knows all mystery and enchantment since the days of the Rishees, and has imagined more behind them. He has tales of a thousand incarnations hidden away in secretness. He believes that everything that happened lives still in the memory of Nature, and that he can call up out of the cycles of the past heroic figures and forgotten history, simply by his will, as a magician draws the elemental hordes together."
"Have a dragon and a princess in it," said Willie, settling himself into an attitude of listening.
"Or authentic information about Eocene man," suggested Robert.
"I could not tell a story that way," said Bryan simply. "I could never invent a story, though all the characters, heroes and princess, were to come and sit beside me so that I could describe them as they really were. My stories come like living creatures into my mind; and I can only tell them as they tell themselves to me. Today, as I lay in the sunlight with closed eyes, I saw a haze of golden light, then twilight trees appeared and moving figures and voices speaking; it shaped itself into what is hardly a story, but only an evening in some legendary existence."
We waited while Bryan tried to recall his misty figures. We were already in sympathy with his phantasmal world, for the valleys below us were dim-coloured and quiet, and we heard but rarely and far away the noises of the village; the creatures of the mountain moved about in secretness, seeking their own peculiar joys in stillness amid dews and darkness. After a little Bryan began.
The Gardens of Twilight
I saw in my vision one of the heroes of the antique world. He rode for many, many days, yet saw no kindly human face. After long wanderings and toils he came to the Gardens of Twilight, the rich and rare gardens of the primeval world, known by rumour to the ancient Greeks as the Hesperides. He looked around with wonder; the place was all a misty dazzle with light, a level light as of evening that flowed everywhere about; the air was rich with the scent of many blossoms; from each flower rose an odour that hovered about it as a delicate vapour. While he gazed, one of the spirits of the garden came nigh him in the guise of a beautiful human child.
"How came you here?"
"I wandered for many years," he said, "I fought with the dragons that lie coiled in citron scales on the highways; I warred against oppression; I made justice to prevail, and now that peace is on the land I might have rested with peace in mine own heart, but I could not yet. So I left behind the happy hearths and homes of men and rode onward, a secret fire burning ceaselessly within me; I know not in what strange home it will be still. But what gardens are these?"
"They are the Gardens of Twilight," answered the child.
"How beautiful then must be the Gardens of Day! How like a faint fine dust of amethyst and gold the mist arises from the enchanted odorous flowers! Surely some spirit things must dwell within the air that breaks so perpetually into hues of pearl and shell!"
"They are the servants of Zeus," the child said. "They live within these wandering airs; they go forth into the world and make mystery in the hearts of men."
"Was it one such guided me thither?"
"I do not know; but this I know, whether led by the wandering spirits or guided by their own hearts, none can remain here safely and look upon the flowers save those who understand their mystery or those who can create an equal beauty. For all others deadly is the scent of the blossoms; stricken with madness, they are whirled away into the outer world in fever, passion and unending hunger and torment."
"I do not care if I pass from them," said the wanderer. "It is not here my heart could be still and its desire cease, but in the first Fount."
They passed on and went deeper into the Gardens of Twilight, which were ever-changing, opalescent, ever-blushing with new and momentary beauty, ever-vanishing before the steady gaze to reveal beneath more silent worlds of mystic being. Like vapour, now gorgeous and now delicate, they wavered, or as the giant weeds are shadowing around the diver in the Indian wave sun-drenched through all its deeps of green. Sometimes a path would unfold, with a million shining flowers of blue, twinkling like stars in the Wilky Way, beneath their feet, and would wind away delicately into the faery distances.
"Let us rest," said the child, leaning against a tree. She began swaying a hand to and fro among the flowers; as her fingers touched the bell-like blooms of burning amethyst they became stained with the rich colour; she seemed to lose herself in dreams as one who toils not for delight, living ever amid rich joys. He wondered if she was as unreal as the gardens, and remembering her words, they seemed familiar as if they were but echoes of the unuttered thoughts that welled up as he moved about. While he watched the flitting phantasmagoria with a sense expectant of music which never came, phantasmagoria with a sense expectant of music which never came, there arose before him images of peace, vanishing faster than passion, and forms of steadfast purity came nigh, attired, priestess-like, in white and gold; they laid their heads against his breast; as he looked down, their eyes, eager and flamelike, grew passionate and full of desire. He stretched out his hand to pluck blossoms and twine wreaths for their beautiful heads.
"Do not! Do not!" cried the child. "See how every blossom has its guardian!"
There were serpents coiling about the roots of every flower, or amid the leaves, waiting with undulating head and forked tongue to strike the uncautious hand. He shook off the drowsy influence of the scents and o'er-burdened air; the forms vanished. He remembered the child's words: "None can remain in safety an equal beauty." He began to ponder over the meaning of the gardens.
"While we sit here, late lingerers in the glory of twilight, I will tell you a story which my fancy brings me," he said. "I thought one came here long ago and built himself a mighty world in a dream of many hundred years."
"He had lived with kings and counselors; he had wrought in magical arts, and the great and wise of the earth were his fellows. When a time came for him to depart he turned away sadly from the towers of men. He passed, without knowing it, through the strange defiles which lead to these gardens; but the light did not break upon him in iridescent waves foamy with flowers and sparkling with vanishing forms; the light was hidden in the bosom of the twilight; it was all-pervading but invisible; the essence of the light bathed his soul; the light was living; the light was exhaustless; by it everything was born; touched by it everything went forth in ecstasy, blind, seeking for realization.
"The magician brought with him the seeds of human desire and wisdom and aspiration. The light broke into his moody forgetfulness and kindled long-forgotten fires. He awoke from his darkness and saw before him in happiest vistas the island city of his lounging. Around him were the men and women he knew; acting on his secret wishes the multitudes hailed him as king, they bowed before him as wise, they worshiped him as all-powerful.. It was not strange to him, and rapt in royal imaginations for countless years he held
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