We are all treading the vanishing road of a song in the air, the vanishing road of the spring flowers and the winter snows, the vanishing roads of the winds and the streams, the vanishing road of beloved faces. But in this great company of vanishing things there is a reassuring comradeship. We feel that we are units in a vast ever-moving army, the vanguard of which is in Eternity. The road still stretches ahead of us. For a little while yet we shall experience all the zest and bustle of marching feet. The swift-running seasons, like couriers bound for the front, shall still find us on the road, and shower on us in passing their blossoms and their snows. For a while the murmur of the running stream of Time shall be our fellow-wayfarer—till, at last, up there against the sky-line, we too turn and wave our hands, and know for ourselves where the road wends as it goes to meet the stars. And others will stand as we today and watch us reach the top of the ridge and disappear, and wonder how it seemed to us to turn that radiant corner and vanish with the rest along the vanishing road.
WOMAN AS A SUPERNATURAL BEING
The boy’s first hushed enchantment, blent with a sort of religious awe, as in his earliest love affair he awakens to the delicious mystery we call woman, a being half fairy and half flower, made out of moonlight and water lilies, of elfin music and thrilling fragrance, of divine whiteness and softness and rustle as of dewy rose gardens, a being of unearthly eyes and terribly sweet marvel of hair; such, too, through life, and through the ages, however confused or overlaid by use and wont, is man’s perpetual attitude of astonishment before the apparition woman.
Though she may work at his side, the comrade of his sublunary occupations, he never, deep down, thinks of her as quite real. Though his wife, she remains an apparition, a being of another element, an Undine. She is never quite credible, never quite loses that first nimbus of the supernatural.
This is true not merely for poets; it is true for all men, though, of course, all men may not be conscious of its truth, or realize the truth in just this way. Poets, being endowed with exceptional sensitiveness of feeling and expression, say the wonderful thing in the wonderful way, bring to it words more nearly adequate than others can bring; but it is an error to suppose that any beauty of expression can exaggerate, can indeed more than suggest, the beauty of its truth. Woman is all that poets have said of her, and all that poets can never say:
incredible hath seemed the rose,
And inconceivable the nightingale—
and the poet’s adoration of her is but the articulate voice of man’s love since the beginning, a love which is as mysterious as she herself is a mystery.