Dreams, by Fiona Macleod
||"Thus begins another vigil, that of the singers in God's
Shadow of Arvor.
"The will of God is in the wind."
"The Wind and Silence, God's eldest
Book of the Opal.")
THE WIND, THE SHADOW,
AND THE SOUL
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
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
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.