The Works of Fiona Macleod, Vol. IV, The Divine Adventure, Part VII
In the noon-heat we lay, for rest and coolness, by the pool, and on the shadowside of a hazel. The water was of so dark a brown that we knew it was of a great depth, and indeed, even at the far verge, a heron, standing motionless, wetted her breast-feathers.
In the mid-pool, where the brown lawns sloped into depths of purple-blue, we could see a single cloud, invisible otherwise where we lay. Nearer us, the water mirrored a mountain-ash heavy with ruddy clusters. That long, feathery foliage, that reddening fruit, hung in a strange, unfamiliar air; the stranger, of those phantom that amid the silence shadow-branches ever and again flitted furtive birds.
We had walked for hours, and were now glad to rest. With us we had brought oaten bread and milk, and were well content.
"It was by a pool such as this," said one of us, after a long interval, "that dreamers of old called to Connla, and Connla heard. That was the mortal name of one whose name we know not."
"Call him now," whispered the Body eagerly.
The Soul leaned forward, and stared into the fathomless brown dusk.
"Speak, Connla! Who art thou?"
Clear as a Sabbath-bell across windless pastures we heard a voice:
"I am of those who wait yet a while. I am older than all age, for my youth is Wisdom and I am younger than all youth, for I am named To-morrow."
We heard no more. In vain, together, separately, we sought to break that silence which divides the mortal moment from hourless time. The Soul himself could not hear, or see, or even remember, because of that mortal raiment of the flesh which for a time he had voluntarily taken upon him self.
"I will tell you a dream that is not all a dream," he said at last, after we had lain a long while pondering what that voice had uttered, that voice which showed that the grave held a deeper mystery than silence.
The Will looked curiously at him.
"Is it a dream wherein we have shared?" he asked slowly.
"That I know not: yet it may well be so. I call my dream 'The Sons of Joy.' If you or the Body have also dreamed, let each relate the dream."
"Yes," said the Body, "I have dreamed it. But I would call it rather 'The Sons of Delight.'"
"And I," said the Will, "The Sons of Silence."
"Tell it," said the Soul, looking towards the Body.
"It was night," answered the Body at once, "and I was alone in a waste place. My feet were entangled among briars and thorns, and beside me was a quagmire. On the briar grew a great staff, and beside it a circlet of woven thorn. I could see them, in a soft, white light. It must have been moonlight, for on the other side of the briar I saw, in the moonshine, a maze of wild roses. They were lovely and fragrant. I would have liked to take the staff, but it was circled with the thorn-wreath; so I turned to the moonshine and the wild roses. It was then that I saw a multitude of tall and lovely figures, men and women, all rose-crowned, and the pale, beautiful faces of the women with lips like roseleaves. They were singing. It was the Song of Delight. I, too, sang. And as I sang, I wondered, for I thought that the eyes of those about me were heavy with love and dreams, as though each had been pierced with a shadowy thorn. But still the song rose, and I knew that the flowers in the grass breathed to it, and that the vast slow cadence of the stars was its majestic measure. Then the dawn broke, and I saw all the company, winged and crested with the seven colours, press together, so that a rainbow was upbuilded. In the middle space below the rainbow, a bird sang. Then I knew I was that bird; and as the rainbow vanished, and the dawn grew grey and chill, I sank to the ground. But it was all bog and swamp. I knew I should sing no more. But I heard voices saying : "O happy, wonderful bird, who has seen all delight, whose song was so rapt, sing, sing, sing!" But when I could sing no more I was stoned, and lay dead."
"That was my dream."
The Soul sighed.
"It was not thus I dreamed," he murmured; "but thus:--
"I stood, at night, on the verge of the sea, and looked at the maze of stars. And while looking and dreaming, I heard voices, and, turning, beheld a multitude of human beings. All were sorrowful; many were heavy with weariness and despair; all suffered from some grievous ill. Among them were many who cried continually that they had no thought, or dream, no wish, but to forget all, and be at rest."
"I called to them, asking whither they were bound?"
"'We are journeying to the Grave,' came the sighing answer.
"Then suddenly I saw the Grave. An angel stood at the portals. He was so beautiful that the radiance of the light upon his brow lit that shoreless multitude; in every heart a little flame arose. The name of that divine one was Hope.
"As shadow by shadow slipt silently into the dark road behind the Grave, I saw the Angel touch for a moment every pale brow.
"I knew at last that I saw beyond the Grave. Infinite ways traversed the universe, wherein suns and moons and stars hung like fruit. Multitude within multitude was there.
"Then, again, suddenly I stood where I had been, and saw the Grave reopen, and from it troop back a myriad of bright and beautiful beings. I could see that some were souls re-born, some were lovely thoughts, dreams, hopes, aspirations, influences, powers and mighty spirits too. And all sang:
'We are, the Sons of Joy.'
"That was my dream."
We were still for a few moments. Then the Will spoke.
"This dream of ours is one thing as the Body's, and another as the Soul's. It is yet another, as I remember it:--
"On a night of a cold silence, when the breath of the equinox sprayed the stars into a continuous dazzle, I heard the honk of the wild geese as they cleft their way wedgewise through the gulfs overhead.
"In the twinkling of an eye I was beyond the last shadow of the last wing.
"Before me lay a land solemn with auroral light. For a thousand years, that were as a moment, I wandered therein. Then, far before me, I saw an immense semi-circle of divine figures, tall, wonderful, clothed with moonfire, each with uplifted head, as a forest before a wind. To the right they held the East, and to the left the West.
"'Who are you?' I cried, as I drifted through them like a mist of pale smoke.
"'We are the Laughing Gods,' they answered.
"Then after I had drifted on beyond the reach of sea or land, to a frozen solitude of ice, I saw again a vast concourse stretching crescent-wise from east to west: taller, more wonderful, crowned with stars, and standing upon dead moons white with perished time.
"'Who are you?' I cried, as I went past them like a drift of pale smoke.
"'We are the Gods who laugh not,' they answered.
"Then when I had drifted beyond the silence of the Pole, and there was nothing but unhabitable air, and the dancing fires were a flicker in the pale sheen far behind, I saw again a vast concourse stretching crescentwise from east to west. They were taller still; they were more wonderful still. They were crowned with flaming suns, and their feet were white with the dust of ancient constellations.
"' Who are you!' I cried, as I went past them like a mist of pale smoke.
"'We are the Gods,' they answered.
"And while I waned into nothingness I felt in my nostrils the salt smell of the sea, and, listening, I heard the honk of the wild geese wedging southward.
"That was my dream."
When the Will ceased, nothing was said. We were too deeply moved by strange thoughts, one and all. Was it always to be thus . . . that we might dream one dream, confusedly real, confusedly unreal, when we three were one; but that when each dreamed alone, the dream, the vision, was ever to be distinct in form and significance?
We lay resting for long. After a time we slept. I cannot remember what then we dreamed, but I know that these three dreams were become one, and that what the Soul saw and what the Will saw and what the Body saw was a more near and searching revelation in this new and one dream than in any of the three separately. I pondered this, trying to remember: but the deepest dreams are always unrememberable, and leave only a fragrance, a sound as of a quiet footfall passing into silence, or a cry, or a sense of something wonderful, unimagined, or of light intolerable: but I could recall only the memory of a moment . . . a moment wherein, in a flash of lightning, I had seen all, understood all.
I rose . . . there was a dazzle on the water, a shimmer on every leaf, a falling away as of walls of air into the great river of the wind . . .and there were three, not one, each staring dazed at the other, in the ears of each the bewilderment of the already faint echo of that lost "I".
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