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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. 17

of love the unspoken yearning within, when the soft, tumultuous stress of the west wind kissed her, who should have been clasped in tender arms and caressed by loving lips ; whose dumb, creative instincts, be-coming genius instead of maternity, struggled out-ward from their home in heart and brain to culminate in this world's wonder, and so build a monument namelessly splendid to the grand nature that found its bread of life was a stone and perished; or whether this creature were the fashioning of some demigod, " for there were giants in those days," who, in the fulness of his strength, despairing of a mortal mate, wandered away from men and wrought his patience and his longing into the rock, as lesser men have carved their memorials on hard Fate, and then died between its paws, sated with labor and glad to sleep ; or whether, indeed, the captive spirits, sealed in Caucasus with the seal of Solomon, did penance for their rebellion in mortal work on mere dull matter, and with anguished essence toiled for ages to mimic in her own clay the dumb pathos of waiting Earth ; whichever of these dreams be nearest truth, one thing is true, that the maker of the Sphinx infused into his work, in as much greater measure as his nature was greater than that of other men, that yearning of pathetic solitude that most wrings a woman's heart ; and the outward semblance, working in, wrought upon the heavy stone with incessant and accumulative power, till through that sluggish sandstone crept a confused thrill of consciousness, and the great creature felt the loneliness that she looked. Far away below her the Nile valley teemed with life ; the antelopes coursed beside their young to feed on the green past-



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