Vanishing Roads and Other Essays eBook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 267 pages of information about Vanishing Roads and Other Essays.
spreads for us its multitudinous snares!  No longer mere individuals, we have not merely an individual’s temptations to guard against, but the temptations of all the world.  Instead of being able to see only that one type of beauty which first appealed to us, our eyes have become so instructed that we now see the beauty of all the other types as well; and we no longer scorn as Philistine the taste of the man in the street for the beauty that is robustly vital and flamboyantly contoured.  Once we called it obvious.  Now we say it is “barbaric,” and call attention to its perfection of type.

The remembrance of our former injustice to it may even awaken a certain tenderness towards it in our hearts, and soon we find ourselves making love to it, partly from a vague desire to make reparation to a slighted type, and partly from the experimental pleasure of loving a beauty the attraction of which it was once impossible for us to imagine.  So we feel when the charm of some old master, hitherto unsympathetic, is suddenly revealed to us.  Ah! it was this they saw.  How blind they must have thought us!

Brown eyes that I love, will you forgive me that I once looked into blue eyes as I am looking now into yours?  Hair black as Erebus, will you forgive these hands that once loved to bathe in a brook of rippled gold?  Ah! they did not know.  It was in ignorance they sinned.  They did not know.

O my beautiful cypress, stately queen of the garden of the world, forgive me that once I gave to the little shrub-like women the worship that is rightly yours!

Lady, whose loveliness is like white velvet, a vineyard heavy with golden grapes, abundant as an orchard of apple blossoms, forgive that once I loved the shadow women, the sad wreathing mists of beauty, the silvery uncorseted phantoms of womanhood.  It was in ignorance I sinned.  I did not know.

Ah!  That Mephistopheles of experience!  How he has led us from one fair face to another, teaching us, one by one, the beauty of all.  No longer lonely sectarians of beauty, pale prophets of one lovely face, there is now no type whose secret is hidden from us.  The world has become a garden of beautiful faces.  The flowers are different, but they are all beautiful.  How is it possible for us, now that we know the charm of each one, to be indifferent to any, or to set the beauty of one above the other?  We have learned the beauty of the orchid, but surely we have not unlearned the rose; and would you say that orchid or rose is more beautiful than the lily?  Surely not.  They are differently beautiful, that is all.

Are blue eyes more beautiful than brown?  I thought so once, but now I see that they are differently beautiful, that is all.  Nor is gold hair more beautiful than black any more, or black than gold.  They are differently beautiful, that is all.  Nor is thy white skin, O Saxon lady, more beautiful than hers of tropic bronze.

Come sad, or come with laughter, beautiful faces; come like stars in dreams, or come vivid as fruit upon the bough; come softly like a timid fawn, or terrible as an army with banners; come silent, come singing ... you are all beautiful, and none is fairer than another—­only differently fair.

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Vanishing Roads and Other Essays from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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