It is a great thing to start life with a small number of really good books which are your very own. You may not appreciate them at first. You may pine for your novel of crude and unadulterated adventure. You may, and will, give it the preference when you can. But the dull days come, and the rainy days come, and always you are driven to fill up the chinks of your reading with the worthy books which wait so patiently for your notice. And then suddenly, on a day which marks an epoch in your life, you understand the difference. You see, like a flash, how the one stands for nothing, and the other for literature. From that day onwards you may return to your crudities, but at least you do so with some standard of comparison in your mind. You can never be the same as you were before. Then gradually the good thing becomes more dear to you; it builds itself up with your growing mind; it becomes a part of your better self, and so, at last, you can look, as I do now, at the old covers and love them for all that they have meant in the past.
To HelenI saw thee once-once only-years ago; I must not say how many-but not many. It was a july midnight; and from outA full-orbed moon, that, like thine own soul, soaring, Sought a precipitate pathway up through heaven, There fell a silvery-silken veil of light, With quietude, and sultriness, and slumberUpon the upturn'd faces of a thousandRoses that grew in an enchanted garden, Where no wind dared to stir, unless on tiptoe-Fell on the upturn'd faces of these rosesThat gave out, in return for the love-lightThier odorous souls in an ecstatic death-Fell on the upturn'd faces of these rosesThat smiled and died in this parterre, enchanted by thee, by the poetry of thy prescence. Clad all in white, upon a violet bank I saw thee half reclining; while the moonFell on the upturn'd faces of the rosesAnd on thine own, upturn'd-alas, in sorrow!Was it not Fate that, on this july midnight-Was it not Fate (whose name is also sorrow)That bade me pause before that garden-gate, To breathe the incense of those slumbering roses?No footstep stirred; the hated world all slept, Save only thee and me. (Oh Heaven- oh, God! How my heart beats in coupling those two worlds!)Save only thee and me. I paused- I looked-And in an instant all things disappeared.(Ah, bear in mind this garden was enchanted!)The pearly lustre of the moon went out; The mossy banks and the meandering paths, The happy flowers and the repining trees, Were seen no more: the very roses' odorsDied in the arms of the adoring airs. All- all expired save thee- save less than thou: Save only the divine light in thine eyes-Save but the soul in thine uplifted eyes.I saw but them- they were the world to me.I saw but them- saw only them for hours-Saw only them until the moon went down. What wild heart-histories seemed to lie enwrittenUpon those crystalline, celestial spheres!How dark a woe! Yet how sublime a hope!How silently serene a sea of pride!How daring an ambition!yet how deep-How fathomless a capacity for love!But now, at length, dear Dian sank from sight, Into western couch of thunder-cloud; And thou, a ghost, amid the entombing treesDidst glide away. Only thine eyes remained. They would not go- they never yet have gone. Lighting my lonely pathway home that night, They have not left me (as my hopes have) since. They follow me- they lead me through the years. They are my ministers- yet I thier slaveThier office is to illumine and enkindle-My duty, to be saved by thier bright light, And purified in thier electric fire, And sanctified in thier Elysian fire. They fill my soul with Beauty (which is Hope), And are far up in heaven- the stars I kneel toIn the sad, silent watches of my night; While even in the meridian glare of dayI see them still- two sweetly scintillantVenuses, unextinguished by the sun!
Once upon a time, they say, there was a girl.. There was a boy.. There was a person who was in trouble. And this is what she did.. And what he did.. And how they learned to survive it. This is what they did.. And why one failed.. And why another triumphed in the end. And I know that it's true, because I danced at their wedding and drank their very best wine.