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The Sphinx's Children

The Sphinx's Children and Other People (New York: Tickner, 1886)


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THE SPHINX'S CHILDREN. 15

those words self-sentient of their breaking, thrilling melody, and wrings or exalts them, idea-garments as they are, with the restless heaving of the thought that wears them.

Or you, whose sun-steeped brush brings to life on canvas the golden trances of August noons, the high, still splendor of its mountain-tops, which the sun caresses with fiery languor, the unrippled slumber of its warm streams, the broad glory of its woods and meadows fused with light and heat into the resplendent haze that earth exhales in her day of prime, till he who sees the picture hears the cricket's chirping in its moveless grasses and scents the rich, aromatic breath of its summer passion and its rapturous noon, do you dream, when at last the perfect work repeats your thought, and you rest in the tropic atmosphere you have created, that in very truth the picture itself is full of inward heat and breathless languor? For you have poured out the colors that light makes out of heat, and in them the still inevitable light shall ever stir the recreating heat that clothes itself in color, and bring your thought, no more a dead abstraction, but a living power, into the very substance whereby you have expressed it. And even so far as you were creative, so shall your work be informed by you, and not mere dead pigment and dried oil and dull canvas be your autograph, but the vivid and inspiring blazon of an inspired idea shall glow life-like on some friendly wall, and in its turn inspire some other soul, whose light within needs but the breath from without to burst upward in clear flame.

Or you, who unveil from its marble tomb that figure of a chained and stainless woman, whose atmosphere



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