The Works of Fiona Macleod, Volume IV
To live in Beauty is to sum up in four words all
the spiritual aspiration of the soul of man.---F. M.
G. R. S. MEAD .
Our thought, our consciousness, is but the scintillation
of a wave: below us is a moving shadow, our brief
forecast and receding way; beneath the shadow are
depths sinking into depths, and then the unfathomable
I was on a vast, an illimitable plain, where the dark blue horizons were sharp as the edges of hills. It was the world, but there was nothing in the world. There was not a blade of grass nor the hum of an insect, nor the shadow of a bird's wing. The mountains had sunk like waves in the sea when there is no wind; the barren hills had become dust. Forests had become the fallen leaf; and the leaf had passed. I was aware of one who stood beside me, though that knowledge was of the spirit only; and my eyes were filled with the same nothingness as I beheld above and beneath and beyond. I would have thought I was in the last empty glens of Death, were it not for a strange and terrible sound that I took to be the voice of the wind coming out of nothing, travelling over nothingness and moving onward into nothing,
"There is only the wind," I said to myself in a whisper.
Then the voice of the dark Power beside me, whom in my heart I knew to be Dalua, the Master of Illusions, said: "Verily, this is your last illusion."
I answered: "It is the wind."
And the voice answered: "That is not the wind that you hear, for the wind is dead. It is the empty, hollow echo of my laughter."
Then, suddenly, he who was beside me lifted up a small stone, smooth as a pebble of the sea. It was grey and flat, and yet to me had a terrible beauty because it was the last vestige of the life of the world.
The Presence beside me lifted up the stone and said: "It is the end."
And the horizons of the world came in upon me like a rippling shadow. And I leaned over darkness and saw whirling stars. These were gathered up like leaves blown from a tree, and in a moment their lights were quenched, and they were further from me than grains of sand blown on a whirlwind of a thousand years.
Then he, that terrible one, Master of Illusions, let fall the stone, and it sank into the abyss and fell immeasurably into the infinite. And under my feet the world was as a falling wave, and was not. And I fell, though without sound, without motion. And for years and years I fell below the dim waning of light; and for years and years I fell through universes of dusk; and for years and years and years I fell through the enclosing deeps of darkness. It was to me as though I fell for centuries, for aeons, for unimaginable time. I knew I had fallen beyond time, and that I inhabited eternity, where were neither height, nor depth, nor width, nor space.
But, suddenly, without sound, without motion, I stood steadfast upon a vast ledge. Before me, on that ledge of darkness become rock, I saw this stone which had been lifted from the world of which I was a shadow, after shadow itself had died away. And as I looked, this stone became fire and rose in flame. Then the flame was not. And when I looked the stone was water; it was as a pool that did not overflow, a wave that did not rise or fall, a shaken mirror wherein nothing was troubled.
Then, as dew is gathered in silence, the water was without form or colour or motion. And the stone seemed to me like a handful of earth held idly in the poise of unseen worlds. What I thought was a green flame rose from it, and I saw that it had the greenness of grass, and had the mystery of life. The green herb passed as green grass in a drought; and I saw the waving of wings. And I saw shape upon shape, and image upon image, and symbol upon symbol. Then I saw a man, and he, too, passed; and I saw a woman,. and she, too, passed; and I saw a child, and the child passed. Then the stone was a Spirit. And it shone there like a lamp. And I fell backward through deeps of darkness, through unimaginable time.
And when I stood upon the world again it was like a glory. And I saw the stone lying at my feet.
And One said: "Do you not know me, brother?"
And I said: "Speak, Lord."
And Christ stooped and kissed me upon the brow.
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