That night the island seemed no more earth set in sea, but a music encircled by the silence. The trees long rooted in antique slumber were throbbing with rich life; through glimmering bark and drooping leaf a light fell on the old man and boy as they passed, and vague figures nodded at them. These were the hamadryad souls of the wood. They were bathed in tender colours and shimmering lights draping them from root to leaf. A murmur came from the heart of every one, a low enchantment breathing joy and peace. It grew and swelled until at last it seemed as if through a myriad pipes that Pan the earth spirit was fluting his magical creative song.
They found the cave of Diotima covered by vines and tangled strailers at the end of the island where the dark-green woodland rose up from the waters. Tithonius paused, for he dreaded this mystic prophetess; but a voice from within called them: “Come in, child of light; come in, old shepherd, I know why you seek me!” They entered, Tithonius trembling with more fear than before. A fire was blazing in a recess of the cavern and by it sat a majestic figure robed in purple. She was bent forward, her hand supporting her face, her burning eyes turned on the intruders.
“Come hither, child,” she said, taking the boy by the hands and gazing into his face. “So this frail form is to be the home of the god. The gods choose wisely. They take no warrior wild, no mighty hero to be their messenger to men, but crown this gentle head. Tell me—you dream—have you ever seen a light from the sun falling upon you in your slumber? No, but look now; look upward.” As she spoke she waved her hands over him, and the cavern with its dusky roof seemed to melt away, and beyond the heavens the heaven of heavens lay dark in pure tranquillity, a quiet which was the very hush of being. In an instant it vanished and over the zenith broke a wonderful light. “See now,” cried Diotima, “the Ancient Beauty! Look how its petals expand and what comes forth from its heart!” A vast and glowing breath, mutable and opalescent, spread itself between heaven and earth, and out of it slowly descended a radiant form like a god’s. It drew nigh radiating lights, pure, beautiful, and starlike. It stood for a moment by the child and placed its hand on his head, and then it was gone. The old shepherd fell upon his face in awe, while the boy stood breathless and entranced.
“Go now,” said the Sybil, “I can teach thee naught. Nature herself will adore you and sing through you her loveliest song. But, ah, the light you hail in joy you shall impart in tears. So from age to age the eternal Beauty bows itself down amid sorrows that the children of men may not forget it, that their anguish may be transformed smitten through by its fire.”
—November 15, 1896