Heart of Man eBook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 196 pages of information about Heart of Man.
under the silvery vapours of noon; or, when the weather freshens darkens, those whirlpools of pure emerald in the gray expanse of storm?  They seem like memories of what has been, made fairer.  One recurring scene has the same fascination for my eyes as the fishers’ lights.  It is a simple picture:  only an arm of mist thrusting out from yonder lowland by the little cape, and making a near horizon, where, for half an hour, the waves break with great dashes of purple and green, deep and angry, against the insubstantial mole.  All day I gaze on these sights of beauty until it seems that nature herself has taken on nobler forms forever more.  When the mountain storm beats the pane at midnight, or the distant lightnings awake me in the hour before dawn, I can forget in what climate I am; but the oblivion is conscious, and half a memory of childhood nights:  in an instant comes the recollection, “I am on the coasts, and these are the couriers, of Etna.”

The very rain is strange:  it is charged with obscure personality; it is the habitation of a new presence, a storm-genius that I have never known; it in born of Etna, whence all things here have being and draw nourishment.  It is not rain, but the rain-cloud, spread out over the valleys, the precipices, the sounding beaches, the ocean plain; it is not a storm, but a season.  It does not rise with the moist Hyades, or ride with cloudy Orion in the Mediterranean night; it does not pass like Atlantic tempests on great world-currents:  it remains.  Its home is upon Etna; thence it comes and thither it returns; it gathers and disperses, lightens and darkens, blows and is silent, and though it suffer the clear north wind, or the west, to divide its veils with heaven, again it draws the folds together about its abode.  It obeys only Etna, who sends it forth; then with clouds and thick darkness the mountain hides its face:  it is the Sicilian winter.

II

But Etna does not withdraw continuously from its children even in this season.  On the third day, at farthest, I was told it would bring back the sun; and I was not deceived.  Two days it was closely wrapped in impenetrable gray; but the third morning, as I threw open my casement and stepped out upon the terrace, I saw it, like my native winter, expanding its broad flanks under the double radiance of dazzling clouds spreading from its extreme summit far out and upward, and of the snow-fields whose long fair drifts shone far down the sides.  Villages and groves were visible, clothing all the lower zone, and between lay the plain.  It seemed near in that air, but it is twelve miles away.  From the sea-dipping base to the white cone the slope measures more than twenty miles, and as many more conduct the eye downward to the western fringe—­a vast bulk; yet one does not think of its size as he gazes; so large a tract the eye takes in, but no more realizes than it does the distance of the stars.  High up, forests

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Heart of Man from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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