Dominion of Dreams, by Fiona Macleod

"Thus begins another vigil, that of the singers in God's acre."
                                                         The Shadow of Arvor.

"The will of God is in the wind."
                                                         Santez Anna.

"The Wind and Silence, God's eldest born."
                                                         ("The Book of the Opal.")



There are dreams beyond the thrust of the spear, and there are dreams and dreams; of what has been or what is to be, as well as the more idle fantasies of sleep. And this, perhaps, is of those dreams whose gossamer is spun out of the invisible threads of sorrow; or it may be, is woven out of the tragic shadows of unfulfilled vicissitude. It is of little moment.
One who was, now is not. That "is the sting, the wonder."
One who was, now is not. The soul and the shadow have both gone away upon the wind.
I write this in a quiet sea-haven. Tall cliffs half enclose it, in two white curves, like the wings of the solander when she hollows them as she breasts the north wind.
These sun-bathed cliffs, with soft hair of green grass, against whose white walls last year the swallows, dusk arrowy shuttles, slid incessantly, and where tufts of sea-lavender hung like breaths of stilled shloke, now seem to me merely tall cliffs. Then, when we were together, they were precipices which fell into seas of dream, and at their bases was for ever the rumour of a most ancient, strange, and penetrating music. It is I only, now, who do not hear: doubtless, in those ears, it fashions new meanings, mysteries, and beauty: there, where the music deepens beyond the chime of the hours, and Time itself is less than the whisper of the running wave. White walls, which could open, and where the sea-song became a spirit, still with the foam-bells on her hair, but with a robe green as grass, and in her band a white flower.
Symbols: yes. To some, foolish; to others clear as the noon, the clearness that is absolute in light, that is so obvious, and is unfathomable.
Last night the wind suddenly smote the sea. There had been no warning. The sun had set beneath narrow peninsulas of lemon and pale mauve; overagainst the upper roseate glow, the east was a shadowy opal wilderness, with one broad strait of luminous green wherein a star trembled. At the furtive suffusion of the twilight from behind the leaves, a bat, heedless of the season, flittered through the silent reaches; and when it too was lost in the obscurity, and darkness was silence and silence darkness, the continuous wave upon the shore was but the murmurous voice of that monotony. Three hours later a strange confused sound was audible. At midnight there was a sudden congregation of voices; a myriad scream tore the silence; the whole sea was uplifted, and it was as though the whirling body of the tide was rent therefrom and flung upon the land.
I did not sleep, but listened to the wind and sea. My dreams and thoughts, children of the wind, were but ministers of a mind wrought in shadow. They did "the will of beauty and regret."
At dawn the tempest was over. But for an hour thereafter the sea was in a shroud of scud and spray: I could see nothing but this shimmering, dreadful whiteness.
Why do I write this? It is because in this past night of tempest, in this day of calm, I have come close to one of whom I speak, and would image in this after-breath, as a sudden fragrance of violets in an unexpected place, a last fragrance of memory. Yet, I would not have written these last words to this book if it were not for the keen resurrection of my sorrow in the very haven of today's noontide.
I was in a hollow in the eastern cliff, a hollow filled with pale blue shadow, and with a faint sea-rumour clinging invisibly to the flint bosses and facets of sun-warmed chalk. Before me rose gradually a grass-green path, the aslant upon the upward slope. There was absolute stillness in the air. The trouble of the waters made this landward silence as peace within peace.
Out of the blue serenities, where nothing, not even the moving whiteness of a vanishing wing, was visible; out of the heat and glory of the day; out of that which is beyond---an eddy of wind swiftly descended. I saw the grasses shiver along the green path. A few broken sprays and twigs whirled this way and that. In my own land this has one open meaning. Those invisible ones whom we call the hidden people---whom so many instinctively ever reducing what is great is small, what is of mystery and tragic wonder to what is fantastic and unthinkable, call "the fairies"---have passed by.
There are too many who inhabit the world that from our eyes is hidden, for us to know who pass, in times, on occasions like this. The children of light and darkness tread the same way. But to-day it was not one of those unseen and therefore unfamiliar kindred.
For when I looked again, I saw that the one whom I had lost moved slowly up the path; but not alone. Behind, or close by, moved another.
It was this other who turned to me. The image stooped, and lifted a palmful of dust in the hollow of its hand. This it blew away with a little sudden breath; and I saw that it was not the shadow, nor the phantom, but the soul of that which I had loved. Yet my grief was for that sweet perished mortality when I saw the eddy-spiralled greying dust was all that remained.
But for a second I had seen them together, so much one, so incommunicably alien. In that moment of farewell, all that was of mortal beauty passed into the starry eyes of the comrade who had forgotten the little infinite change. It was then, it was thus, I saw Eternity. That is why I write.
Then, as a film of blue smoke fades into the sky, what I had seen was not; and the old bewilderment was mine again, and I knew not which was the shadow or which the soul, or whether it was but the wind which had thus ceased to be.