Friday, October 8, 2010

These things of the soul that are real...

(Detail from The Wizard, click to see larger)

But it was a later paragraph that struck May particularly, and she marked it lovingly. As so often in Burne-Jones's letters, it conjures up images from his paintings, but particularly a painting he worked on throughout his last years, The Wizard, which portrayed an aging man, recognizably Burne-Jones himself, showing a young girl a magic mirror, in which you can see ships on a stormy sea. The paragraph my great-grandmother marked seems to me to offer the most perfect promise of love, shelter, and protection for May as she looked back on her past sadness and joy, and prepared herself for what now lay ahead.

...you see May, it is these things of the soul that are real, and the only real things in the universe---and the little hidden chamber in my heart where you only can come is more real than your little bedroom---if you can believe it---I will furnish it for you---such a couch for your tired soul to lie on, and music there shall be always, soft and low, and little talks when you are refreshed---news of the outer world---when you are rested and can sit up and stand I'll open a little magic window and you shall choose what land you will see and what time in the world---you shall see Babylon being built if you like---or the Greeks coming into Greece---or the North Sea tossing and full of ships, or the piety of ancient France, plaintive notes of ancient Ireland, kings of Samarcand, Nibelungen terrors---all I have raked with greedy hands into my treasure house since I was a mean wretched looking object of ten till now---into that room with the magical window none has entrance but you.


From May and Amy, last page

3 comments:

Mark said...

Amazing comment

Hermes said...

Well spotted. BJ lived in a sort of parallel universe where Arthur was still alive and the soul really meant something.

Robert Parry said...

I do like that. It's very lovely.