The Works of "Fiona Macleod", Volume V, Anima Celtica

STRANGER. "And what help can there be from one who sees not?"
OEDIPUS. "In all that I speak there shall be sight." --OEdipus at Kolonos.

"But . . . have you asked for that teaching through which the unheard is heard, the unthought is thought, the unknown is known?"--The Chandogya Upanishad, vi.

 

A TRIAD

In the thirty-second Triad of the "Mystery of the Bards" it is said that when the soul inherits Gwynnfyd, that is to say, Happiness, three supreme gifts--once, long ago, its crown, but long, long ago, lost--will be restored to it. And these three things are, we are told in this Triad, primitive genius, primitive love, and primitive memory.

No doubt there have been many interpretations of these triads. It is not easy to say of one quality what it is; nor what another may stand for; nor what a third may indicate. What is meant by genius, and what primitive genius? And what love is primitive love, and between whom, and at what altar lit, and under what star a creature of joyous or malign life? And what is primitive memory, and of what is it the energy; of the mind, called into brief life, like a match lit in the wind; or of the racial spirit, that lives upon the nerves as the aerial spirits of old legend live upon the beauty and fragrance of flowers and grasses; or of the soul, that has so much to recollect in its single transient passage before it can gather again the sound and colour of its earlier migrations, and so far to travel along this dim road of vicissitude before it can meet the shining brows of the forgotten children of beauty and wonder, who were with us, once?

In the "Roman de Merlin," when that son of earth and fire is wooed in spiritual ecstasy by the mysterious Radiance, this Triad is recalled in the words J'éclaire la partie immortelle de ton âme . . . je serai ta Force, ta Muse, et ton Génie."

But I think the unknown Druid meant more than this. I think more is meant than an original possessing spirit, a daemon or genius; than a first love, burning with the white flame of purity and inspiration; than a divinity born of the passion--that desires and the will that achieves.

For I think that nowhere, in any age, in any faith, is there a finer spiritual promise than what this Triad holds. If we be sure of these things, we need not trouble about any other. To remember, with the remembrance of the soul; to love, in the ecstasy of the morning of the world; to enter into the genius of the earth, to be at one with every breath of life, to share every separate rapture; to see thought like flame, and life like clear water, and death like the shifting shadows of flowclouds; to be an eddy in that clear, swift flowing water; to be a flame of thought, shaken like a plume of fire before the mirrors myriad minds, or to descend like fiery snow into their hills and valleys-and yet never to be lost, never to be drowned in light or fire, eternally errant yet ever at the call of the Herdsman--that, indeed, is to live back into life that was, and to live on into life that is.

To be possessed by primitive genius. That would be to arise each morning with the wonder of a child awaking, for the first time, by the sea, or among great mmountains, or in a forest roofed with wandering cloud and inhabited by a whispering wind. It would be to arise, too, with the heart of a woman suddenly knowing all things because of her shaken heart. It would be to arise with the spirit of youth, proud as a young eagle staring across the dominions of the sun or upon the green lands and grey seas far below. It would be to arise with the thrill and longing of the poet, with the ecstasy of the seer, with the uplifted silence of the visionary. It would be to arise with the instinctive gladness of every child of the bushes, of every little one of the grass; of the salmon leaping in the sunlit linn; of the swallow and the wild bee, of the lark in the blue pastures of the air. Do not the creatures of an hour rejoice in wheeling their grey mazes in the green shadows of boughs? It would be to share the rapture. We have forgotten that; we have forgotten rapture. The communion of life! To breathe once more in a common joy! To feel the brotherhood of life, from the blossom on the bough to the grey silence of old hills; from the least of the blind offspring of the earth to the greatest of the winged children of the four winds; from the wild lives that lurk and are afraid to the fearless lives that openly rejoice; from the stilled lives that do not move, the hill-rock and the sea-caverned coral, to the wild swan of the arctic wave or the swallows that with white breast and purple wing thrid an ever-moving maze from the Hebrid Isles to where the Nile narrows in tufted reed and floating nenuphar. To feel thus, with the thrill of conscious oneness, rejoicingly; as children of one mother, nestlings of one brood; and, thus feeling, to perceive and be at one with the secret springs of the inward life, in caverned thought and imagebuilding dream, and of the life made visible in motion, colour, and form--this would be to know the primitive genius, to be possessed by it, to be of the genii of the morning.

But without love, rapture would be a cold flame. Lovely are the fires of the sea, and lovelier the fainting opal and pale rose of the shaken aurora; but the red warmth of a hearth-side is even more near to the soul as well as dearer to the body. This is an old wisdom, indeed, but the Druid of the Triad had thought and dreamed deeply before he placed this white greatness of love second in the trinity of the beatitudes. It was not of the commoner loves he dreamed; but of love. The cushat loves his mate of the cedar branch and the greenness, and the wolf leaping in the starlight answers the howl of the she-wolf, and even the scattered clan of the lapwing and the seamew have their faithful companionships by the moor-orchis and where the wrackflower swims. But these are loves, not love. It is so great a thing that the wings of sunrise and sunset do not enclose it, and the stars are eddies of dust behind its feet; and yet this immortal can be claspt between the shaken flames of two hearts, and meshed in the subtle nets of dreams. It has many raiments, many faces. The mother bends low and kisses it, the friend clasps its hand, husband and wife uplift it, lovers worship it, the just uphold it, great minds and deep natures, breathe it as a common air, the pure of heart inhabit it. And, of old, it was even now as with the pure of heart. It was a habitation. The soul dwelled in it, as light in water, as rhythm in light, as vibration in sound. Primitive genius beheld the world in wonder; when it was wedded to primitive love, it looked through the rainbow of a new passion and a new joy, and knew that beyond the rapture of things seen with the eye was the throbbing world of things not seen but known, of things not held but felt, of things not measured in surety but treasured in hope. With love, coming to one and all with each new dawn as wind and light come, the heavens were opened and the world stood disclosed in a new beauty. To the enchantment had come music.

To recapture these--primitive genius, primitive love! Might not the Druid of yesterday or to-day think there was no further crown for the rejoicing spirit? And yet, assuredly, it was from the unplumed depth of knowledge which we call intuition that the seer of the Triad placed primitive memory as the third and chief of the stars in the spiritual crown. For Genius, which is the rejoicing spirit of the world, could not see beyond its own radiance of life; and Love, which is at once the little shaken flame in a single heart and the shoreless fire of immortality, could not with its mortal eyes see beyond death; but Memory--mother of all art, overlord of destiny, the Word of humanity --she sits apart. She looks down upon the whirling of the wheels of chance and the dust of empires; she remembers the Sons of the Morning; she holds the clues of all interpretation. Sitting at the throne of Life, she has seen the passage of the divine multitude; many gods have gone by her; she has stood by the starry graves of great deities. Like love, she is an Eternal, and incommensurable, and yet can whisper in a sleeper's ear or lie tranced in a dreamer's mind. She has all songs on her lips, all music in touch of her hands, all desires in her eyes, all hopes in her breath, all joys and all sorrows, all faiths and all despairs. It is she who gives joy to genius, and a pulse to love; she knows the secret roads; wisdom is the star upon her brows.

Primitive genius, primitive love, primitive memory; what are these phantoms of the dreaming mind?

So will many say. For, they will add, where, in any age, in any record of any age, in any dream, even, of the estates of man, did the soul rejoice in this genius, travail in this sacred love, crown itself as a god with this diadem of omniscient light?

I do not know. I have not read of any. But I think the soul knows. I think the soul remembers. I think that intuition is divine and unshakable. I think, if we can fill the ruined palaces of the mind with the wind of immortality and the light of the eternal--not forgetting that the symbol is but the shadow of the reality, and that into no symbol can the inconceivable be translated--that we may doubt these unstable temples served by blind votaries rather than the spirit which Eternity breathes and Immortality bestows.

I think we have travelled a long way, and have forgotten much, and continually forget more and more. The secret road of the soul is a long road. When, at last, we turn, looking backward so as at last to go forward, we shall see a long way off the forsaken homes of joy, and above these our inheritance behold the stars of our spiritual youth.


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