Beauty’s Sister, Wisdom

 On the edge between rest and dreams I lay;
 Strange thoughts then did arise by sounds within my ear.
 Wild and odd hypothesizing came,
 But it made sense somehow within the resting brain.
 In this realm I wandered far within my mind, 
 Until a light did arrest my gaze and guide my sight
 To see a wonder beyond what I’ve seen
 Before in all my waking sights and many dreams.

 Lo! Some creature appeared, manifest to me:
 A woman shining bright all over with white fire.
 Her eyes were green as the spring in the woods,
 And they laughed as birds in that season do tend to do.
 She was draped in some cloak of grayish sheen,
 Knit with gold swirls and with gold waves around the edges.
 Her body was wrapped in a green tunic
 Tightly bound to her waist by a thin, silver belt,
 Clasped by a golden image, set there mid
 Her navel, of a mighty leaping forest stag.
 Her skin on face and hands (all that could be seen)
 Was white as snow fresh from a deep winter’s night’s fall.
 But warmish in hue, not cold or too blue,
 As if its color was dancing with excitement.
 And from her skin did seem the whitish flame
 To rise and halo her head as if within the sun.

 And when she raised her hand at me to point
 That light came forth and seemed to blind my open eyes,
 But yet could I see the Faery maiden there.
 And she spoke, “Hail, Earthen Man, I am not here to blind
 Or to terrify. I am Beauty’s sister,
 I whom can be seen. But upon her no eye may fall.
 Everything you call “beautiful”
 Is not Beauty herself in all her glory.
 Were she here instead of me you would be
 Both blind and dead, for your soul could never better
 Than her see, and so would run from an endless 
 Dreary life in which no sight could to her compare.
 So I come to you; I am her shadow
 Cast upon a lesser frame, in which at least I’m seen.”

 “O Lady!” I cried, “have you not doomed me still?
 For though it was impossible to see the more
 Beautiful than your sibling, what even now?
 Odds are against me seeing greater than thee too!”

 O she laughed at my plight! “Concern you not,
 Mortal, the sight of me will cover and enchant
 Every other sight you see, sound you hear,
 Taste you taste, and every caress you feel.
 I have opened your blinded eyes and only
 Death shall close them again. Beware, though, don’t watch the sun
 Rise and set, again and again, without 
 Sleep or food or drink, for so will be your temptation.
 You must eat, drink, sleep, and, yes, even love.
 Do not drown in the riches I release to you.”

 I answered, “I shall not, Queen of Green and White.
 I accept thy curse and also receive thy blessing.
 Bind me by whatever spell you soon cast.”

 “I cast no spell,” said she, “This sight of me is enough,
 And my words, which your ears have eaten whole;
 Your eyes have grasped me in all by which I am seeable.
 Forget me not, forget me not, Dying One.
 Remember, my children are in every wonder –
 The clouds lit by orange flames even and morn;
 The ridges clothed in trees of ev’ry kind beyond count;
 The mountains draped in ice and snows sunlit;
 The oceans heaving with waters dark and deep;
 Even the cities of man spread out like
 Playing pieces arranged to win a clever game,
 Which weave in and out of Nature’s kingdom
 To meet the wild with intellect and the will.

 “All these are my offspring, and their Father is 
 Time who is also sometimes called Space, who fills
 All in all. And from his simplest seed I
 Have borne out of ev’ry color, shape, texture, and motion
 That which fills all you call “Cosmos” and is
 Your World. Sometimes I hide; sometimes I cast aside
 My cloak and shine in the firmament,
 Making mortals drunk on my nakedness. But yet
 Have I to walk on Earth unclothed, all in
 White fire. I would not be a shade redder were I
 To do so, but your fellow folk would die
 Of the shame that my form would cast on their simpleness.
 And so I depart: you have seen Beauty’s 
 Easier partner and have come to greater heights.”

 And, thus, she passed out of my sight but not
 Out of Memory. And as she disappeared from me
 I caught a glimpse of ev’ry form she might take
 That passed so quickly I scarce could take it all in.
 Ev'ry quality and shape of any type
 Collapsed into my mind at once, but my brain,
 Being small, could not hold the most of it all.
 But swear I will I saw the like and bowed
 Inevitably to the Form of Reality.

Featured image: Frontpiece to the Song of Los, by William Blake, 1795.

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