With wider vision I saw how far withdrawn from strife they had stilled the tumults of nations; I saw how hearing far within the voices, spiritual, remote, which called, the mighty princes of the earth descended from their thrones becoming greater than princes; under this silent influence the terrible chieftains flung open the doors of their dungeons that they themselves might become free, and all these joined in that hymn which the quietude of earth makes to sound in the ears of the gods.—Overpowered I turned round, the eyes of light were fixed upon me.
“Do you now understand?”
“I do not understand,” I replied. I see that the light and the beauty and the power that enters the darkness of the world comes from these high regions; but I do not know how the light enters, no how beauty is born, I do not know the secret of power.”
“You must become as one of us,” he answered.
I bowed my head until it touched his breast; I felt my life was being drawn from me, but before consciousness utterly departed and was swallowed up in that larger life, I learned something of the secret of their being; I lived within the minds of men, but their thoughts were not my thoughts; I hung like a crown over everything, yet age was no nearer than childhood to the grasp of my sceptre and sorrow was far away when it wept for my going, and very far was joy when it woke at my light; yet I was the lure that led them on; I was at the end of all ways, and I was also in the sweet voice that cried “return;” and I had learned how spiritual life is one in all things, when infinite vistas and greater depths received me, and I went into that darkness out of which no memory can ever return.
—March 15, 1893
The Mask of Apollo
A tradition rises up within me of quiet, unrumoured years, ages before the demigods and heroes toiled at the making of Greece, long ages before the building of the temples and sparkling palaces of her day of glory. The land was pastoral, all over its woods hung a stillness as of dawn and of unawakened beauty deep-breathing in rest. Here and there little villages sent up their smoke and a dreamy people moved about; they grew up, toiled a little at their fields, followed their sheep and goats, they wedded and grey age overtook them, but they never ceased to be children. They worshiped the gods with ancient rites in little wooden temples and knew many things which were forgotten in later years.
Near one of these shrines lived a priest, an old man whose simple and reverend nature made him loved by all around. To him, sitting one summer evening before his hut, came a stranger whom he invited to share his meal. The stranger sat down and began to tell him many wonderful things, stories of the magic of the sun and of the bright beings who moved at the gates of the day. The old priest grew drowsy in the warm sunlight and fell asleep. Then the stranger who was Apollo arose and in the guise of the old priest entered the little temple, and the people came in unto him one after the other.