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The Sphinx's Children

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


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16 THE SPHINX'S CHILDREN.

is as a nun's veil, whose sad divinity is a crown, — do you dare imagine that the holy despair you have imaged, the pause of a saint's resignation and a martyr's courage, is but the outline and the faultless contour of a stone? Come back, Pygmalion, from your mythic sleep return, Art's divinest mystery, germ of all its power, from the deep dust of ages! and teach these modern men that his story, whose passion fired a statue's breast, was but an immortal fable, a similitude of the truth you feel, but do not see, —that even as our Creator shared his life with his creatures, so do you pour, in far less measure, but obedient to that precedent which is law, your own life and the magnetic instincts of that life, into what you create!

Keep your hearts pure and your hands clean, there-fore ; for these things that you sell for dead shall one day livingly confront you, and tell their own story of your life and your nature with terrible honesty to men and angels. But whoever, in those mystic ages that have ceased to be historic and have become mythic, whoever made the Sphinx, — whether it were some Titaness sequestered from all her kind by genie-spells, forced to live amid these desert solitudes fed from the abundant hands of Nature, and taught by dreams inspired and twilight visions,—

"A daughter of the gods, divinely tall—
And most divinely fair,"

her only image of human beauty the reflex of her white, symmetric limbs, her wide, dark eyes, her full lips and soft Egyptian features, wherewith the river greeted her from its blue placidity; her only sense



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