The day had been one of those days that come perhaps only in October—days of rich, languorous sunshine full of a mysterious contentment, days when the heart says, “My cup runneth over,” and happy tears suddenly well to the eyes, as though from a deep overflowing sense of the goodness of God. It was really Summer, with the fragrant mists of Autumn in her hair. It had happened as we had hoped on starting out. We had caught up with Summer on her way to New York, Summer all her golden self, though garlanded with wreaths of Autumn, and about her the swinging censers of burning weeds.
It was a wonderful valley we had caught her in, all rolling purple hills softly folding and unfolding in one continuous causeway; a narrow valley, and the hills were high and close and gentle, suggesting protection and abundance and never-ending peace. Here and there the vivid green of Winter wheat struck a note of Spring amid all the mauves and ochres of dying things.
It was a day on which you had no wish to talk,—you were too happy,—wanted only to wander on and on as in a dream through the mellow vale—one of those days in which the world seems too good to be true, a day of which we feel, “This day can never come again.” It was like walking through the Twenty-third Psalm. And, as it closed about us, as we came to our village at nightfall, and the sunshine, like a sinking lake of gold, grew softer and softer behind the uplands, the solid world of rock and tree, and stubble-field and clustered barns, seemed to be growing pure thought—nothing seemed left of it but spirit; and the hills had become as the luminous veil of some ineffable temple of the mysterious dream of the world.
“Puvis de Chavannes!” said Colin to me in a whisper.
And later I tried to say better what I meant in this song:
Strange, at this still enchanted hour,
How things in daylight hard and rough,
Iron and stone and cruel power,
Turn to such airy, starlit stuff!
Yon mountain, vast as Behemoth,
Seems but a veil of silver breath;
And soundless as a flittering moth,
And gentle as the face of death,
Stands this stern world of rock and tree
Lost in some hushed sidereal dream—
The only living thing a bird,
The only moving thing a stream.