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Verbal Expression
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The Lake

by Edgar Allan Poe
  In spring of youth it was my lot
  To haunt of the wide world a spot
  The which I could not love the less–
  So lovely was the loneliness
  Of a wild lake, with black rock bound,
  And the tall pines that towered around.

  But when the Night had thrown her pall
  Upon the spot, as upon all,
  And the mystic wind went by
  Murmuring in melody–
  Then–ah, then, I would awake
  To the terror of the lone lake.

  Yet that terror was not fright,
  But a tremulous delight–
  A feeling not the jewelled mine
  Could teach or bribe me to define–
  Nor Love–although the Love were thine.

  Death was in that poisonous wave,
  And in its gulf a fitting grave
  For him who thence could solace bring
  To his lone imagining–
  Whose solitary soul could make
  An Eden of that dim lake.

Miss Billy’s Decision, CHAPTER X

by Eleanor H. Porter

A JOB FOR PETE–AND FOR BERTRAM
The early days in December were busy ones,
certainly, in the little house on Corey Hill.  Marie
was to be married the twelfth.  It was to be a home
wedding, and a very simple one–according to
Billy, and according to what Marie had said it
was to be.  Billy still serenely spoke of it as a
“simple affair,” but Marie was beginning to be
fearful.  As the days passed, bringing with them
more and more frequent evidences either tangible
or intangible of orders to stationers, caterers,
and florists, her fears found voice in a protest.

“But Billy, it was to be a _simple_ wedding,”
she cried.

“And so it is.”

“But what is this I hear about a breakfast?”

Billy’s chin assumed its most stubborn squareness.

“I don’t know, I’m sure, what you did hear,”
she retorted calmly.

“Billy!”

Billy laughed.  The chin was just as stubborn,
but the smiling lips above it graced it with an
air of charming concession.

“There, there, dear,” coaxed the mistress of
Hillside, “don’t fret.  Besides, I’m sure I should
think you, of all people, would want your guests
_fed!_”

“But this is so elaborate, from what I hear.”

“Nonsense!  Not a bit of it.”

“Rosa says there’ll be salads and cakes and
ices–and I don’t know what all.”

Billy looked concerned.

“Well, of course, Marie, if you’d _rather_ have
oatmeal and doughnuts,” she began with kind
solicitude; but she got no farther.

“Billy!” besought the bride elect.  “Won’t
you be serious?  And there’s the cake in wedding
boxes, too.”

“I know, but boxes are so much easier and
cleaner than–just fingers,” apologized an anxiously
serious voice.

Marie answered with an indignant, grieved
glance and hurried on.

“And the flowers–roses, dozens of them,
in December!  Billy, I can’t let you do all this
for me.”

“Nonsense, dear!” laughed Billy.  “Why, I
love to do it.  Besides, when you’re gone, just
think how lonesome I’ll be!  I shall have to adopt
somebody else then–now that Mary Jane has
proved to be nothing but a disappointing man
instead of a nice little girl like you,” she finished
whimsically.

Marie did not smile.  The frown still lay
between her delicate brows.

“And for my trousseau–there were so many
things that you simply would buy!”

“I didn’t get one of the egg-beaters,” Billy
reminded her anxiously.

Marie smiled now, but she shook her head, too.

“Billy, I cannot have you do all this for me.”

“Why not?”

At the unexpectedly direct question, Marie
fell back a little.

“Why, because I–I can’t,” she stammered.
“I can’t get them for myself, and–and–”

“Don’t you love me?”

A pink flush stole to Marie’s face.

“Indeed I do, dearly.”

“Don’t I love you?”

The flush deepened.

“I–I hope so.”

“Then why won’t you let me do what I want
to, and be happy in it?  Money, just money,
isn’t any good unless you can exchange it for
something you want.  And just now I want pink roses
and ice cream and lace flounces for you.  Marie,”
–Billy’s voice trembled a little–“I never had a
sister till I had you, and I have had such a good
time buying things that I thought you wanted!
But, of course, if you don’t want them–”  The
words ended in a choking sob, and down went
Billy’s head into her folded arms on the desk
before her.

Marie sprang to her feet and cuddled the bowed
head in a loving embrace.

“But I do want them, dear; I want them all–
every single one,” she urged.  “Now promise me
–promise me that you’ll do them all, just as
you’d planned!  You will, won’t you?”

There was the briefest of hesitations, then came
the muffled reply:

“Yes–if you really want them.”

“I do, dear–indeed I do.  I love pretty
weddings, and I–I always hoped that I could
have one–if I ever married.  So you must
know, dear, how I really do want all those things,”
declared Marie, fervently.  “And now I must go.
I promised to meet Cyril at Park Street at three
o’clock.”  And she hurried from the room–and
not until she was half-way to her destination did
it suddenly occur to her that she had been urging,
actually urging Miss Billy Neilson to buy for
her pink roses, ice cream, and lace flounces.

Her cheeks burned with shame then.  But
almost at once she smiled.

“Now wasn’t that just like Billy?” she was
saying to herself, with a tender glow in her eyes.
It was early in December that Pete came one
day with a package for Marie from Cyril.  Marie
was not at home, and Billy herself went downstairs
to take the package from the old man’s
hands.

“Mr. Cyril said to give it to Miss Hawthorn,”
stammered the old servant, his face lighting up
as Billy entered the room; “but I’m sure he
wouldn’t mind _your_ taking it.”

“I’m afraid I’ll have to take it, Pete, unless
you want to carry it back with you,” she smiled.
“I’ll see that Miss Hawthorn has it the very first
moment she comes in.”

“Thank you, Miss.  It does my old eyes good
to see your bright face.”  He hesitated, then
turned slowly.  “Good day, Miss Billy.”

Billy laid the package on the table.  Her eyes
were thoughtful as she looked after the old man,
who was now almost to the door.  Something
in his bowed form appealed to her strangely.  She
took a quick step toward him.

“You’ll miss Mr. Cyril, Pete,” she said pleasantly.

The old man stopped at once and turned.  He
lifted his head a little proudly.

“Yes, Miss.  I–I was there when he was
born.  Mr. Cyril’s a fine man.”

“Indeed he is.  Perhaps it’s your good care
that’s helped, some–to make him so,” smiled
the girl, vaguely wishing that she could say
something that would drive the wistful look from the
dim old eyes before her.

For a moment Billy thought she had succeeded.
The old servant drew himself stiffly erect.  In
his eyes shone the loyal pride of more than fifty
years’ honest service.  Almost at once, however,
the pride died away, and the wistfulness returned.

“Thank ye, Miss; but I don’t lay no claim to
that, of course,” he said.  “Mr. Cyril’s a fine
man, and we shall miss him; but–I cal’late
changes must come–to all of us.”

Billy’s brown eyes grew a little misty.

“I suppose they must,” she admitted.

The old man hesitated; then, as if impelled
by some hidden force, he plunged on:

“Yes; and they’ll be comin’ to you one of
these days, Miss, and that’s what I was wantin’
to speak to ye about.  I understand, of course,
that when you get there you’ll be wantin’ younger
blood to serve ye.  My feet ain’t so spry as they
once was, and my old hands blunder sometimes,
in spite of what my head bids ‘em do.  So I wanted
to tell ye–that of course I shouldn’t expect to
stay.  I’d go.”

As he said the words, Pete stood with head and
shoulders erect, his eyes looking straight forward
but not at Billy.

“Don’t you _want_ to stay?” The girlish voice
was a little reproachful.

Pete’s head drooped.

“Not if–I’m not wanted,” came the husky
reply.

With an impulsive movement Billy came
straight to the old man’s side and held out her
hand.

“Pete!”

Amazement, incredulity, and a look that was
almost terror crossed the old man’s face; then a
flood of dull red blotted them all out and left only
worshipful rapture.  With a choking cry he took
the slim little hand in both his rough and twisted
ones much as if he were possessing himself of
a treasured bit of eggshell china.

“Miss Billy!”

“Pete, there aren’t a pair of feet in Boston,
nor a pair of hands, either, that I’d rather have
serve me than yours, no matter if they stumble
and blunder all day!  I shall love stumbles and
blunders–if you make them.  Now run home,
and don’t ever let me hear another syllable about
your leaving!”

They were not the words Billy had intended
to say.  She had meant to speak of his long,
faithful service, and of how much they appreciated
it; but, to her surprise, Billy found her
own eyes wet and her own voice trembling, and
the words that she would have said she found
fast shut in her throat.  So there was nothing
to do but to stammer out something–anything,
that would help to keep her from yielding to
that absurd and awful desire to fall on the old
servant’s neck and cry.

“Not another syllable!” she repeated sternly.

“Miss Billy!” choked Pete again.  Then he
turned and fled with anything but his usual
dignity.

Bertram called that evening.  When Billy
came to him in the living-room, her slender self
was almost hidden behind the swirls of damask
linen in her arms.

Bertram’s eyes grew mutinous.

“Do you expect me to hug all that?” he demanded.

Billy flashed him a mischievous glance.

“Of course not!  You don’t _have_ to hug
anything, you know.”

For answer he impetuously swept the offending
linen into the nearest chair and drew the girl
into his arms.

“Oh!  And see how you’ve crushed poor Marie’s
table-cloth!” she cried, with reproachful eyes.

Bertram sniffed imperturbably.

“I’m not sure but I’d like to crush Marie,”
he alleged.

“Bertram!”

“I can’t help it.  See here, Billy.”  He loosened
his clasp and held the girl off at arm’s length,
regarding her with stormy eyes.  “It’s Marie,
Marie, Marie–always.  If I telephone in the
morning, you’ve gone shopping with Marie.
If I want you in the afternoon for something,
you’re at the dressmaker’s with Marie.  If I call
in the evening–”

“I’m here,” interrupted Billy, with decision.

“Oh, yes, you’re here,” admitted Bertram,
aggrievedly, “and so are dozens of napkins,
miles of table-cloths, and yards upon yards of
lace and flummydiddles you call `doilies.’  They
all belong to Marie, and they fill your arms and
your thoughts full, until there isn’t an inch of
room for me.  Billy, when is this thing going to
end?”

Billy laughed softly.  Her eyes danced.

“The twelfth;–that is, there’ll be a–pause,
then.”

“Well, I’m thankful if–eh?” broke off the
man, with a sudden change of manner.  “What
do you mean by `a pause’?”

Billy cast down her eyes demurely.

“Well, of course _this_ ends the twelfth with
Marie’s wedding; but I’ve sort of regarded it as
an–understudy for one that’s coming next
October, you see.”

“Billy, you darling!” breathed a supremely
happy voice in a shell-like ear–Billy was not
at arm’s length now.

Billy smiled, but she drew away with gentle
firmness.

“And now I must go back to my sewing,”
she said.

Bertram’s arms did not loosen.  His eyes had
grown mutinous again.

“That is,” she amended, “I must be practising
my part of–the understudy, you know.”

“You darling!” breathed Bertram again; this
time, however, he let her go.

“But, honestly, is it all necessary?” he sighed
despairingly, as she seated herself and gathered
the table-cloth into her lap.  “Do you have to do
so much of it all?”

“I do,” smiled Billy, “unless you want your
brother to run the risk of leading his bride to
the altar and finding her robed in a kitchen
apron with an egg-beater in her hand for a
bouquet.”

Bertram laughed.

“Is it so bad as that?”

“No, of course not–quite.  But never have
I seen a bride so utterly oblivious to clothes as
Marie was till one day in despair I told her that
Cyril never could bear a dowdy woman.”

“As if Cyril, in the old days, ever could bear
any sort of woman!” scoffed Bertram, merrily.

“I know; but I didn’t mention that part,”
smiled Billy.  “I just singled out the dowdy
one.”

“Did it work?”

Billy made a gesture of despair.

“Did it work!  It worked too well.  Marie gave
me one horrified look, then at once and immediately
she became possessed with the idea that she
_was_ a dowdy woman.  And from that day to
this she has pursued every lurking wrinkle and
every fold awry, until her dressmaker’s life isn’t
worth the living; and I’m beginning to think
mine isn’t, either, for I have to assure her at
least four times every day now that she is _not_
a dowdy woman.”

“You poor dear,” laughed Bertram.  “No
wonder you don’t have time to give to me!”

A peculiar expression crossed Billy’s face.

“Oh, but I’m not the _only_ one who, at times,
is otherwise engaged, sir,” she reminded him.

“What do you mean?”

“There was yesterday, and last Monday, and
last week Wednesday, and–”

“Oh, but you _let_ me off, then,” argued
Bertram, anxiously.  “And you said–”

“That I didn’t wish to interfere with your
work–which was quite true,” interrupted Billy
in her turn, smoothly.  “By the way,”–Billy
was examining her stitches very closely now
–“how is Miss Winthrop’s portrait coming
on?”

“Splendidly!–that is, it _was_, until she began
to put off the sittings for her pink teas and
folderols.  She’s going to Washington next week, too,
to be gone nearly a fortnight,” finished Bertram, gloomily.

“Aren’t you putting more work than usual
into this one–and more sittings?”

“Well, yes,” laughed Bertram, a little shortly.
“You see, she’s changed the pose twice already.”

“Changed it!”

“Yes.  Wasn’t satisfied.  Fancied she wanted
it different.”

“But can’t you–don’t you have something to
say about it?”

“Oh, yes, of course; and she claims she’ll
yield to my judgment, anyhow.  But what’s the
use?  She’s been a spoiled darling all her life, and
in the habit of having her own way about everything.
Naturally, under those circumstances,
I can’t expect to get a satisfactory portrait,
if she’s out of tune with the pose.  Besides, I will
own, so far her suggestions have made for
improvement–probably because she’s been happy
in making them, so her expression has been good.”

Billy wet her lips.

“I saw her the other night,” she said lightly.
(If the lightness was a little artificial Bertram did
not seem to notice it.)  “She is certainly–very
beautiful.”

“Yes.”  Bertram got to his feet and began to
walk up and down the little room.  His eyes were
alight.  On his face the “painting look” was king.
“It’s going to mean a lot to me–this picture,
Billy.  In the first place I’m just at the point in
my career where a big success would mean a lot
–and where a big failure would mean more.
And this portrait is bound to be one or the other
from the very nature of the thing.”

“I-is it?” Billy’s voice was a little faint.

“Yes.  First, because of who the sitter is, and
secondly because of what she is.  She is, of course,
the most famous subject I’ve had, and half the
artistic world knows by this time that Marguerite
Winthrop is being done by Henshaw.  You can
see what it’ll be–if I fail.”

“But you won’t fail, Bertram!”

The artist lifted his chin and threw back his
shoulders.

“No, of course not; but–”  He hesitated,
frowned, and dropped himself into a chair.  His
eyes studied the fire moodily.  “You see,” he
resumed, after a moment, “there’s a peculiar,
elusive something about her expression–”
(Billy stirred restlessly and gave her thread so
savage a jerk that it broke)“–a something
that isn’t easily caught by the brush.  Anderson
and Fullam–big fellows, both of them–didn’t
catch it.  At least, I’ve understood that neither
her family nor her friends are satisfied with _their_
portraits.  And to succeed where Anderson and
Fullam failed–Jove!  Billy, a chance like that
doesn’t come to a fellow twice in a lifetime!”
Bertram was out of his chair, again, tramping
up and down the little room.

Billy tossed her work aside and sprang to her
feet.  Her eyes, too, were alight, now.

“But you aren’t going to fail, dear,” she cried,
holding out both her hands.  “You’re going to
succeed!”

Bertram caught the hands and kissed first one
then the other of their soft little palms.

“Of course I am,” he agreed passionately,
leading her to the sofa, and seating himself at her
side.

“Yes, but you must really _feel_ it,” she urged;
“feel the `_sure_’ in yourself.  You have to!–to
doing things.  That’s what I told Mary Jane yesterday,
when he was running on about what _he_
wanted to do–in his singing, you know.”

Bertram stiffened a little.  A quick frown came
to his face.

“Mary Jane, indeed!  Of all the absurd names
to give a full-grown, six-foot man!  Billy, do, for
pity’s sake, call him by his name–if he’s got
one.”

Billy broke into a rippling laugh.

“I wish I could, dear,” she sighed ingenuously.

“Honestly, it bothers me because I _can’t_ think
of him as anything but `Mary Jane.’  It seems
so silly!”

“It certainly does–when one remembers
his beard.”

“Oh, he’s shaved that off now.  He looks
rather better, too.”

Bertram turned a little sharply.

“Do you see the fellow–often?”

Billy laughed merrily.

“No.  He’s about as disgruntled as you are
over the way the wedding monopolizes everything.
He’s been up once or twice to see Aunt Hannah
and to get acquainted, as he expresses it, and once
he brought up some music and we sang; but he
declares the wedding hasn’t given him half a show.”

“Indeed!  Well, that’s a pity, I’m sure,”
rejoined Bertram, icily.

Billy turned in slight surprise.

“Why, Bertram, don’t you like Mary Jane?”

“Billy, for heaven’s sake!  _Hasn’t_ he got any
name but that?”

Billy clapped her hands together suddenly.

“There, that makes me think.  He told Aunt
Hannah and me to guess what his name was, and
we never hit it once.  What do you think it is?
The initials are M. J.”

“I couldn’t say, I’m sure.  What is it?”

“Oh, he didn’t tell us.  You see he left us to
guess it.”

“Did he?”

“Yes,” mused Billy, abstractedly, her eyes on
the dancing fire.  The next minute she stirred and
settled herself more comfortably in the curve
of her lover’s arm.  “But there! who cares
what his name is?  I’m sure I don’t.”

“Nor I,” echoed Bertram in a voice that he
tried to make not too fervent.  He had not
forgotten Billy’s surprised:  “Why, Bertram, don’t
you like Mary Jane?” and he did not like to call
forth a repetition of it.  Abruptly, therefore, he
changed the subject.  “By the way, what did
you do to Pete to-day?” he asked laughingly.
“He came home in a seventh heaven of happiness
babbling of what an angel straight from the sky
Miss Billy was.  Naturally I agreed with him
on that point.  But what did you do to him?”

Billy smiled.

“Nothing–only engaged him for our butler
–for life.”

“Oh, I see.  That was dear of you, Billy.”

“As if I’d do anything else!  And now for
Dong Ling, I suppose, some day.”

Bertram chuckled.

“Well, maybe I can help you there,” he hinted.
“You see, his Celestial Majesty came to me
himself the other day, and said, after sundry and
various preliminaries, that he should be `velly
much glad’ when the `Little Missee’ came to
live with me, for then he could go back to China
with a heart at rest, as he had money `velly
much plenty’ and didn’t wish to be `Melican
man’ any longer.”

“Dear me,” smiled Billy, “what a happy
state of affairs–for him.  But for you–do you
realize, young man, what that means for you?
A new wife and a new cook all at once?  And you
know I’m not Marie!”

“Ho! I’m not worrying,” retorted Bertram
with a contented smile; “besides, as perhaps
you noticed, it wasn’t Marie that I asked–to
marry me!”

A Valentine

by Edgar Allan Poe

For her this rhyme is penned, whose luminous eyes,
       Brightly expressive as the twins of Leda,
  Shall find her own sweet name, that, nestling lies
       Upon the page, enwrapped from every reader.
  Search narrowly the lines!–they hold a treasure
       Divine–a talisman–an amulet
  That must be worn at heart. Search well the measure–
       The words–the syllables! Do not forget
  The trivialest point, or you may lose your labor!
       And yet there is in this no Gordian knot
  Which one might not undo without a sabre,
       If one could merely comprehend the plot.
  Enwritten upon the leaf where now are peering
       Eyes scintillating soul, there lie perdus
  Three eloquent words oft uttered in the hearing
       Of poets by poets–as the name is a poet’s, too.
  Its letters, although naturally lying
       Like the knight Pinto–Mendez Ferdinando–
  Still form a synonym for Truth–Cease trying!
       You will not read the riddle, though you do the best you can do.

by Samuel Taylor Coleridge and William Wordsworth

    The Sun came up upon the right,
      Out of the Sea came he;
    And broad as a weft upon the left
      Went down into the Sea.

    And the good south wind still blew behind,
      But no sweet Bird did follow
    Ne any day for food or play
      Came to the Marinere’s hollo!

    And I had done an hellish thing
      And it would work ‘em woe:
    For all averr’d, I had kill’d the Bird
      That made the Breeze to blow.

    Ne dim ne red, like God’s own head,
      The glorious Sun uprist:
    Then all averr’d, I had kill’d the Bird
      That brought the fog and mist.
    ‘Twas right, said they, such birds to slay
      That bring the fog and mist.

    The breezes blew, the white foam flew,
      The furrow follow’d free:
    We were the first that ever burst
      Into that silent Sea.

    Down dropt the breeze, the Sails dropt down,
      ‘Twas sad as sad could be
    And we did speak only to break
      The silence of the Sea.

    All in a hot and copper sky
      The bloody sun at noon,
    Right up above the mast did stand,
      No bigger than the moon.

    Day after day, day after day,
      We stuck, ne breath ne motion,
    As idle as a painted Ship
      Upon a painted Ocean.

    Water, water, every where
      And all the boards did shrink;
    Water, water, every where,
      Ne any drop to drink.

    The very deeps did rot: O Christ!
      That ever this should be!
    Yea, slimy things did crawl with legs
      Upon the slimy Sea.

    About, about, in reel and rout
      The Death-fires danc’d at night;
    The water, like a witch’s oils,
      Burnt green and blue and white.

    And some in dreams assured were
      Of the Spirit that plagued us so:
    Nine fathom deep he had follow’d us
      From the Land of Mist and Snow.

    And every tongue thro’ utter drouth
      Was wither’d at the root;
    We could not speak no more than if
      We had been choked with soot.

    Ah wel-a-day! what evil looks
      Had I from old and young;
    Instead of the Cross the Albatross
      About my neck was hung.

The Island of the Fay

by Edgar Allan Poe
    “Nullus enim locus sine genio est.”

     Servius
“La musique,” says Marmontel, in those “Contes Moraux” which in all
our translations we have insisted upon calling “Moral Tales,” as if in
mockery of their spirit–”la musique est le seul des talens qui jouisse
de lui-meme: tous les autres veulent des temoins.” He here confounds
the pleasure derivable from sweet sounds with the capacity for creating
them. No more than any other talent, is that for music susceptible of
complete enjoyment where there is no second party to appreciate its
exercise; and it is only in common with other talents that it produces
effects which may be fully enjoyed in solitude. The idea which the
raconteur has either failed to entertain clearly, or has sacrificed in
its expression to his national love of point, is doubtless the very
tenable one that the higher order of music is the most thoroughly
estimated when we are exclusively alone. The proposition in this form
will be admitted at once by those who love the lyre for its own sake and
for its spiritual uses. But there is one pleasure still within the reach
of fallen mortality, and perhaps only one, which owes even more than
does music to the accessory sentiment of seclusion. I mean the happiness
experienced in the contemplation of natural scenery. In truth, the man
who would behold aright the glory of God upon earth must in solitude
behold that glory. To me at least the presence, not of human life only,
but of life, in any other form than that of the green things which grow
upon the soil and are voiceless, is a stain upon the landscape, is at
war with the genius of the scene. I love, indeed, to regard the dark
valleys, and the gray rocks, and the waters that silently smile, and the
forests that sigh in uneasy slumbers, and the proud watchful mountains
that look down upon all,–I love to regard these as themselves but the
colossal members of one vast animate and sentient whole–a whole whose
form (that of the sphere) is the most perfect and most inclusive of all;
whose path is among associate planets; whose meek handmaiden is the
moon; whose mediate sovereign is the sun; whose life is eternity; whose
thought is that of a god; whose enjoyment is knowledge; whose destinies
are lost in immensity; whose cognizance of ourselves is akin with our
own cognizance of the animalculæ which infest the brain, a being which
we in consequence regard as purely inanimate and material, much in the
same manner as these animalculæ must thus regard us.

Our telescopes and our mathematical investigations assure us on every
hand, notwithstanding the cant of the more ignorant of the priesthood,
that space, and therefore that bulk, is an important consideration in
the eyes of the Almighty. The cycles in which the stars move are those
best adapted for the evolution, without collision, of the greatest
possible number of bodies. The forms of those bodies are accurately such
as within a given surface to include the greatest possible amount of
matter; while the surfaces themselves are so disposed as to accommodate
a denser population than could be accommodated on the same surfaces
otherwise arranged. Nor is it any argument against bulk being an object
with God that space itself is infinite; for there may be an infinity of
matter to fill it; and since we see clearly that the endowment of matter
with vitality is a principle–indeed, as far as our judgments extend,
the leading principle in the operations of Deity, it is scarcely
logical to imagine it confined to the regions of the minute, where we
daily trace it, and not extending to those of the august. As we find
cycle within cycle without end, yet all revolving around one far-distant
centre which is the Godhead, may we not analogically suppose, in the
same manner, life within life, the less within the greater, and all
within the Spirit Divine? In short, we are madly erring through
self-esteem in believing man, in either his temporal or future
destinies, to be of more moment in the universe than that vast “clod of
the valley” which he tills and contemns, and to which he denies a soul,
for no more profound reason than that he does not behold it in operation.

These fancies, and such as these, have always given to my meditations
among the mountains and the forests, by the rivers and the ocean, a
tinge of what the every-day world would not fail to term the fantastic.
My wanderings amid such scenes have been many and far-searching, and
often solitary; and the interest with which I have strayed through many
a dim deep valley, or gazed into the reflected heaven of many a bright
lake, has been an interest greatly deepened by the thought that I have
strayed and gazed alone. What flippant Frenchman was it who said,
in allusion to the well known work of Zimmermann, that “la solitude est
une belle chose; mais il faut quelqu’un pour vous dire que la solitude
est une belle chose”? The epigram cannot be gainsaid; but the necessity
is a thing that does not exist.

It was during one of my lonely journeyings, amid a far distant region of
mountain locked within mountain, and sad rivers and melancholy tarns
writhing or sleeping within all, that I chanced upon a certain rivulet
and island. I came upon them suddenly in the leafy June, and threw
myself upon the turf beneath the branches of an unknown odorous shrub,
that I might doze as I contemplated the scene. I felt that thus only
should I look upon it, such was the character of phantasm which it wore.

On all sides, save to the west where the sun was about sinking, arose
the verdant walls of the forest. The little river which turned sharply
in its course, and was thus immediately lost to sight, seemed to have no
exit from its prison, but to be absorbed by the deep green foliage of
the trees to the east; while in the opposite quarter (so it appeared to
me as I lay at length and glanced upward) there poured down noiselessly
and continuously into the valley a rich golden and crimson waterfall
from the sunset fountains of the sky.

About midway in the short vista which my dreamy vision took in, one
small circular island, profusely verdured, reposed upon the bosom of the
stream.

  So blended bank and shadow there,
  That each seemed pendulous in air–

so mirror-like was the glassy water, that it was scarcely possible to
say at what point upon the slope of the emerald turf its crystal
dominion began. My position enabled me to include in a single view both
the eastern and western extremities of the islet, and I observed a
singularly-marked difference in their aspects. The latter was all one
radiant harem of garden beauties. It glowed and blushed beneath the eye
of the slant sunlight, and fairly laughed with flowers. The grass was
short, springy, sweet-scented, and Asphodel-interspersed. The trees were
lithe, mirthful, erect, bright, slender, and graceful, of eastern figure
and foliage, with bark smooth, glossy, and parti-colored. There seemed a
deep sense of life and joy about all, and although no airs blew from out
the heavens, yet everything had motion through the gentle sweepings to
and fro of innumerable butterflies, that might have been mistaken for
tulips with wings.

The other or eastern end of the isle was whelmed in the blackest shade.
A sombre, yet beautiful and peaceful gloom, here pervaded all things.
The trees were dark in color and mournful in form and attitude–
wreathing themselves into sad, solemn, and spectral shapes, that
conveyed ideas of mortal sorrow and untimely death. The grass wore the
deep tint of the cypress, and the heads of its blades hung droopingly,
and hither and thither among it were many small unsightly hillocks, low
and narrow, and not very long, that had the aspect of graves, but were
not, although over and all about them the rue and the rosemary
clambered. The shades of the trees fell heavily upon the water, and
seemed to bury itself therein, impregnating the depths of the element
with darkness. I fancied that each shadow, as the sun descended lower
and lower, separated itself sullenly from the trunk that gave it birth,
and thus became absorbed by the stream, while other shadows issued
momently from the trees, taking the place of their predecessors thus
entombed.

This idea having once seized upon my fancy greatly excited it, and I
lost myself forthwith in reverie. “If ever island were enchanted,” said
I to myself, “this is it. This is the haunt of the few gentle Fays who
remain from the wreck of the race. Are these green tombs theirs?–or do
they yield up their sweet lives as mankind yield up their own? In dying,
do they not rather waste away mournfully, rendering unto God little by
little their existence, as these trees render up shadow after shadow,
exhausting their substance unto dissolution? What the wasting tree is to
the water that imbibes its shade, growing thus blacker by what it preys
upon, may not the life of the Fay be to the death which engulfs it?”

As I thus mused, with half-shut eyes, while the sun sank rapidly to
rest, and eddying currents careered round and round the island, bearing
upon their bosom large dazzling white flakes of the bark of the
sycamore, flakes which, in their multiform positions upon the water, a
quick imagination might have converted into anything it pleased; while I
thus mused, it appeared to me that the form of one of those very Fays
about whom I had been pondering, made its way slowly into the darkness
from out the light at the western end of the island. She stood erect in
a singularly fragile canoe, and urged it with the mere phantom of an
oar. While within the influence of the lingering sunbeams, her attitude
seemed indicative of joy, but sorrow deformed it as she passed within
the shade. Slowly she glided along, and at length rounded the islet and
re-entered the region of light. “The revolution which has just been made
by the Fay,” continued I musingly, “is the cycle of the brief year of
her life. She has floated through her winter and through her summer. She
is a year nearer unto death: for I did not fail to see that as she came
into the shade, her shadow fell from her, and was swallowed up in the
dark water, making its blackness more black.”

And again the boat appeared and the Fay, but about the attitude of the
latter there was more of care and uncertainty and less of elastic joy.
She floated again from out the light and into the gloom (which deepened
momently), and again her shadow fell from her into the ebony water, and
became absorbed into its blackness. And again and again she made the
circuit of the island (while the sun rushed down to his slumbers), and
at each issuing into the light there was more sorrow about her person,
while it grew feebler and far fainter and more indistinct, and at each
passage into the gloom there fell from her a darker shade, which became
whelmed in a shadow more black. But at length, when the sun had utterly
departed, the Fay, now the mere ghost of her former self, went
disconsolately with her boat into the region of the ebony flood, and
that she issued thence at all I cannot say, for darkness fell over all
things, and I beheld her magical figure no more.

Resurrection

 by Emily Dickinson
‘T was a long parting, but the time
For interview had come;
Before the judgment-seat of God,
The last and second time

These fleshless lovers met,
A heaven in a gaze,
A heaven of heavens, the privilege
Of one another’s eyes.

No lifetime set on them,
Apparelled as the new
Unborn, except they had beheld,
Born everlasting now.

Was bridal e’er like this?
A paradise, the host,
And cherubim and seraphim
The most familiar guest.

Sonnet to Lake Leman

by Lord Byron

    Rousseau–Voltaire–our Gibbon–and De Stael–
      Leman! these names are worthy of thy shore,
      Thy shore of names like these! wert thou no more,
    Their memory thy remembrance would recall:
    To them thy banks were lovely as to all,
      But they have made them lovelier, for the lore
      Of mighty minds doth hallow in the core
    Of human hearts the ruin of a wall
      Where dwelt the wise and wondrous; but by thee
    How much more, Lake of Beauty! do we feel,
      In sweetly gliding o’er thy crystal sea,
    The wild glow of that not ungentle zeal,
      Which of the Heirs of Immortality
    Is proud, and makes the breath of Glory real!

Welcome to Verbal Expression!

Verbal Expression is ready to launch on February 14, 2008! Valentine’s Day!  VE will feature poetry, prose, art, and short stories from our previously defunct print magazine Verbal Expression as well as some great public domain stuff.  Look for us soon.

Image:Venus de Milo Louvre Ma399 n4.jpg

by Emily Dickinson

The brain within its groove
Runs evenly and true;
But let a splinter swerve,
‘T were easier for you
To put the water back
When floods have slit the hills,
And scooped a turnpike for themselves,
And blotted out the mills!

Sonnet on Chillon

by Lord Byron

    Eternal Spirit of the chainless Mind!
      Brightest in dungeons, Liberty! thou art:
      For there thy habitation is the heart–
    The heart which love of thee alone can bind;
    And when thy sons to fetters are consigned–
      To fetters, and the damp vault’s dayless gloom,
      Their country conquers with their martyrdom,
    And Freedom’s fame finds wings on every wind.
    Chillon! thy prison is a holy place,
      And thy sad floor an altar–for ’twas trod,
    Until his very steps have left a trace
      Worn, as if thy cold pavement were a sod,
    By Bonnivard!–May none those marks efface!
      For they appeal from tyranny to God.

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